Friday, October 12, 2018

Dear Author, Please Stop

Dear Author,

You wrote the thing! Good for you! Now, you're going to fling that thing into the bright sky and see if it will fly.

I want you to stop.

No, no. By all means, hit publish or accept that contract - whatever is going to get your book out into the world, do it. What I want to do is tell you what I wish someone had told me.

Stop being a people pleaser if you are one.

Remember why you started writing in the first place. Whether it was to entertain yourself, or keep yourself company, or to right a wrong done in another story - no matter the reason, at some point, writing became your own little act of rebellion. Maybe sedition. It's a portion of yourself that refuses to bend to the dictates of your society and your culture. It's the part of you that you reserve for you. Keep that firmly in mind and in your heart.

Once you hit publish, your story may grow wings. Or it may crash and burn. Or it may flounder in obscurity. You have no control over how your thing is received. But if you're a people pleaser, you'll spend too much time and energy obsessing over why someone liked it/didn't like it/failed to notice it. And that will warp your relationship with your stories. Eventually, it will warp your relationship with yourself.

So stop being a people pleaser. Only one person needs to love your stories. You. If you do, then and only then is it possible for anyone else to love them, too. It isn't a guarantee that everything you produce will meet with unconditional love. It likely won't. What is guaranteed is that if you allow people pleasing to drive your writing, no one will be happy. Least of all you.


PS. Debut year? WTH? Every single book you release is a debut. It's all new. It's all fun. It's all scary and overwhelming and guaranteed something will go sideways because of all the moving parts. But if you keep writing, you have infinite chances to roll out the perfect debut. Even if it's of your 67th book.