I don’t remember who first told me, “Write the book you want to read,” but it’s great advice. Unfortunately, writing the book that calls to us isn’t always easy. It takes confidence, groundedness, and a certain inner push. Maybe this is because writers who desire publication are so often told to “write for the market.” (Writing for the market is also great advice for aspiring published authors, by the way, but if that’s all we’re doing, then it stands to reason that our work might ring a bit hollow.)
It’s been a year almost to the day since I’ve last written a blog post. During that year I dove headfirst into completing a manuscript I started writing over two years ago, a manuscript that embodies the idea of writing the story I want to read. It’s adult literary fiction, and it’s with my agent now. I have no idea if it will be published. I hope so, but the part I have control over (writing the best book I can about a topic that deeply interests me and is also deeply personal) is pretty much done for the moment. Working on this book taught me, even more than my already-published novels have, that the wordsmithing is the most important thing of all for many of us who call ourselves writers. For me, it even trumps a publishing contract–and I really, really like publishing contracts.
Today’s encouragement: If you became a writer because you love to write, don’t ever forget that, especially when struggling to get your work in front of the masses. Being published can be a wonderful thing, but it’s not the only thing that matters. Go for it, if that’s your dream, but don’t let the craziness of the publishing journey wreck the joy and the sense of accomplishment to be found in the simple act of placing one word after another.