In my first year as a writer, after studying the publishing world for a year prior, I learned that the literary agents living in NYC were right– the success and visibility of a fiction novel come down to trends and the books the masses pick up, meaning that the books non-readers read and recommend are King.
Never in a million years did I think I’d fail at something I worked hard at. Usually, you can tell how a series is going to do after the third book (yeah I have 3 out), and it was clear when the second one was released that the majority of the people who bought book 1 just don’t want to read the rest. Yes, I did advertising and worked with a PR rep, and worked countless weeks on social media. I thought that all dreams came true with work, but it’s not true in an over-saturated market, where most work is treated like a dime store novel. Most avid readers are after free books, not out to see you making a living. Wouldn’t you rather have something you don’t have to pay for? Yeah, me too.
On the way through my first series, I also met fantastic readers that got my way of writing–that understand my story! I also received a few perfect reviews from an editorial service that also rate traditionally published fiction.
While I was discouraged, I didn’t share my personal struggles about failing on my author page, and held on to my great reviews and how much I appreciate the readers I do have. I wasn’t going to end my series in spite, and I’m still going to finish the story for readers even though I can’t make a career out of it.
That brings me to tell you that I’m still proud of my writing. I’m proud of growing, and I’m proud of how fast I could write a novel in the year that I spent being able to jot down 2,000-10,000 words in 24 hours! I saw progress, and because of that, I saw great reviews from readers and editorials.
I can say it: I am amazing at writing.
I’m wonderful at using literary devices, and symbolism, and making sure my characters have not only fears–but goals and imperfections. I write twists, things get dark, and challenges are involved. I show what real life is like in a fantasy setting.
I don’t think many writers without representation will see success in the post-twilight era, where the most popular book right now, 50 Shades of Grey, is a rip off of Twilight. A book that feels like it was filled by the author pointing to random words in the dictionary (Twilight) is still dominating the book market years later. For the most part, Urban Fantasy is over for the time being, and I accept that. Gripping plots are way more important to readers than the actual writing. Familiar plots are even better than gripping ones.
Recently my opinion was flat out asked for from another writer. It was more or less asking if other writers ever feel like they’re nor good enough and second guess every word, or think that they have no knack what so ever for writing. I said that I know I’m amazing but have self doubt because I don’t write what’s trendy. I said the writer was not alone, and that reflection is good but self-doubt isn’t. I said keep going. Unfortunately, I don’t think my opinion was being asked for, I think I was supposed to hold back my opinion, pat the writer on the back, and go.
The response I got was a way of saying that my opinion (the one that was asked for) was essentially wrong. The first point in the response was the writer telling me that the second-guessing had nothing to do with how other people receive their work. It’s about a lack of self-confidence in writing with no one else’s opinion involved. I get that people have different reasons for doubt. However, it was the second part of the response that got me thinking.
I was basically told, and very politely and tactfully I might add, that I shouldn’t say that I am amazing. After I go and begin my encouragement to keep going with “I know I am amazing,” the writer flat out states that their reason for being hypercritical is because they don’t want to be alone in thinking they are a good writer. They don’t want to be one of those people who is alone in thinking they are amazing. Does that go against the first statement of saying that doubt has absolutely nothing to do with reviews or what’s popular, that it has nothing to do others? Yes… but it’s okay to think that way.
But thinking this way, that you’re so humble that you can forget about other people’s reviews of your work, and feel like your writing it utter crap, is a choice to be stricken with depression and anxiety about your writing. By saying that the opinions of others don’t matter, while you are trying to make sure that you’re not the only one who thinks you’re writing is great, you’re setting yourself up for upset you don’t deserve. Your humility and the conflict between self-reflection and pride will make everything so much harder. But my opinion on this is wrong, and am supposed to let you wallow in your humble ways.
But I can’t. I can’t broadcast the depression I felt over failing, and the way I paused my life while I spent my savings on editing and producing my books. I can’t make other authors commiserate and feel like every word they pen could be wrong because I know there is EXCELLENT writing out there that no one will ever see. I can’t completely turn in on myself and forget the readers who are buying my books, reviewing them, and reading them. I can’t leave readers out of the equation and turn in on myself, panicked that every word is wrong. Yes, I’ll do a revision on my first book, but I’m not going to say that it’s horrible, because it’s not.
Being proud of your writing isn’t wrong. Saying that you know you are amazing does not mean that you don’t have room to grow. It doesn’t mean that you’re better than others. It doesn’t mean any of that. It’s only about you. It only means that you are proud of the time and work spent on your story, and that you love your story.
I, Romarin Demetri, have failed at making a career out of something I excel at, and I’m not going to think less of my talent for it. Surely, I could be forfeiting getting future 5 star reviews, unable to have my books edited anymore, but you know what?
I’m a genius, and I will not downplay my accomplishments, or the readers who fell in love with my story and characters. It does not mean that I am the best writer out there (Come on, it’s Shakespeare and always will be if you look at things mathematically), and it does not mean that I can’t improve.
I don’t think anyone else should have to keep from being proud either.
I don’t think writers should turn in on themselves, because when you release a book, you put it out there, and you’re asking for readers to be a part of it. How can you then take away all meaning that readers hold?
Sometimes when you ask for an opinion, you will get a blog post like this. Any writer reading this needs to stop doubting themselves. Don’t toss every accomplishment you’ve met aside and let the fear of picking the wrong word cripple you. Don’t pick 1 line and read it over and over again in contemplation. Don’t choose to set yourself up to be unhappy doing something you love and have a knack for.
You are amazing too.