January 15, 2013

Writer's Rites: All Alone With You

QUOTABLE: "The act of writing is not only about claiming our truths, our selves, but having the courage to not apologize when we do." ~ Robin LaFevers

...and there is indeed a part of writing where it is about struggle. AF and I are both writing and revising at this point, struggling to wrestle the tail ends of narrative into a cohesive (coherent?) conclusion, saying what we want to say, ending up where we need to end. It's tough, and it's the part where it's easy to not trust oneself - not trust oneself to have said enough, and not too much, and to trust oneself to go back and ensure that we've said what we mean to say - that we've dug deeply enough to get all of the bits of us which resonate on this topic. So, we're always glad when our friendly Shrinking Violet Robin drops by Writer Unboxed with new discoveries about her own writing journey. To wit:

The truth is, I feel sad when someone doesn’t connect with a book I’ve written. I want to connect with people through my fiction and feel I’ve failed when I haven’t. On really tough days? That feeling can be closer to shame. And no, I’m not proud of that. I’m rather horrified, actually. All that personal work toward self-empowerment, forgotten in a second. Sometimes I wish I could apologize to the reader; they invested time and energy in my book—time they could have used reading other books. I want to explain to them that I didn’t try to set out and write a boring or shallow book or flat characters or a distant heroine.

But the thing is, chances are that our book isn’t those things—even though some readers respond that way to them. Because the truth is, the writer only writes the first half of the book, it is the reader herself that writes the second part of the book. All that white space we leave in the book is filled in by the reader’s own personality, world view, and expectations, and there is simply no way we can control that. And if we tried to control that by adjusting our stories to gain those readers approval, we could very well destroy the parts that created such a strong, resonant connection with other readers.

It’s not about pleasing ALL readers, but about finding OUR readers, our tribe.

So much more that's important to remember. Get the goods here, and take a moment to breathe - and then dive back in.


Sarah Stevenson said...

Thanks for posting this. There's never a bad time to remind oneself that it isn't our job to please every reader...

Jennifer R. Hubbard said...

I came to this conclusion a while ago. People talk about having a "thick skin," and for me at least, there's no such thing. As Robin says, "You simply can’t make good art and stay covered up at the same time. They are mutually exclusive." Sometimes we get stung; it's part of life. It doesn't have to crush us, but it's OK to admit that it hurts, before we let it pass.