Posted by : Sherri Cornelius Monday, June 20, 2011

I think if I just started typing every day, whether or not I have a topic in mind, I’d post a lot more often. Nothing seems important enough to write down, except for some stuff I can’t really talk about. But today I decided to take the plunge and just write anything. Just communicate.

I haven’t been writing fiction at all for a long while, so long that I don’t even feel guilty anymore. Letting my agent go let me go. I felt like the band of a slingshot must feel right after it releases its missile, flaccidly bouncing with the force of the release. I’m not ready to load another stone, but I am finally still enough to begin hunting for the perfect one. The hunt might take a while, and apparently I’m fine with that.

As I’m opening files and emails I haven’t looked at in months, I’ve found something disturbing. I’d thought Black Veil Angel, what I consider my better book, had been barely subbed, maybe to ten or so smaller publishers, while Ea’s Gift had been subbed to the death. Now I see it’s the other way around. My agent had abandoned EG in favor of BVA (apparently it was the better book), and I was so deep in my helplessness that I’d never laid the subs out side by side.

The reason this is disturbing is that BVA was going to get me another agent, if I ever decided to try that route again, and EG was self-pub fodder, something that didn’t have a life in traditional publishing but was good enough to experiment with. I thought my future was in contemporary fantasy anyway, so it would be fine. But the most likely next project, the one that captures my imagination, is another traditional fantasy like EG, complete with a dragon.

So all this means is that I still don’t know what the hell I’m doing. This whole time I’ve been trying to balance what I want to write with what I think others want me to write, which is impossible. I bought into the advice that it’s best to have a whole bunch of people read your stuff and tell you how to fix it, no matter what. I’m starting to think this is a big reason my creativity died.

Other people, those who don’t have a people-pleasing gene as dominant as mine, might do well with this advice. For me, it’s just managed to confuse me enough that I freeze up. I haven’t had a vision for my projects, I see in hindsight, except to write what pleases others. And not in an attagirl way, an ego puffing way, but that if other people don’t like my work, then my work isn’t valid.

What I see now is, if others don’t like my work it might not get published, but that doesn’t make it less valid. And once I understood that, it was easy to see that somebody is going to like my work, if I am authentic and true. Some people know this and apply it instinctively. I never did.

{ 11 comments... read them below or Comment }

  1. Perhaps like your blog tag says, " the pursuit of exuberant imperfection" will free you up to write your own way, with authenticity and truth. That's what I'd most like to read!

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  2. I did used to be exuberant about my imperfection--wonder what happened? I forgot I even had that up there. :)

    I feel like I'm gathering energy for writing while I deal with other life issues. Once these issues are done I'll feel a lot more comfortable giving my true self to the page.

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  3. Glad to hear it Sherri. I've enjoyed everything I've read of yours, and to think that it wasn't coming through the most "true and authentic" channel. I can't wait to read the stuff that comes from a reduction in your people-pleasing gene.

    Hopefully your Libra nature will keep the scales intact though, and not have you swinging to the other side and going down my path, where you absolutely don't care what anyone says should be written. But of course I know you'll keep it balanced. You always do.

    As for Black Veil Angel, I think it could be the kind of book that gets published once you've made a name for yourself. Get a couple of of novels published and then spring BVA on your agent. :O)

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  4. Hmmm. First, I'd say your creativity hasn't died. It is still there. It may be neglected and dusty, but it is there. And it is waiting for you to pay it some attention and polish it up.

    Second, I don't know what other issues you are dealing with, and I'm sure they require lots of your time and energy, and that they're important. That said, there are always issues to deal with. If you wait for the issues to be cleared up...well, the world will then miss out on what you have to say. So, even if you can spare only five minutes of time for your creativity, five minutes is a start.

    Third, I know something about people-pleasing. When I was a teenager, I people-pleased enough to give myself chest pains and keep me in bed for days. But here is the thing, you a person too. Please yourself!

    Fourth, you are talented. You are good. You are many great things. Nobody's perfect. JK Rowling isn't perfect and she still writes. LOTS of writers have early books that don't see the light of day. EA and BVA may yet find their home. Write the next book. If you found an agent once, you can find another. Hey, I've written 7 books and still don't have an agent. So.

    Fifth, (whew) you write that some people know about writing their true self "instinctively." Sure. Some do. But I bet money half the people you think know this instinctively struggled hard and suffered massive amounts of insecurity first. You just don't know it. They make it look easy or natural, but they're just better at hiding the mess.

    Okay. That's enough of me. Keep writing.

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  5. I think that's where I am right now, Tony, where I'll be putting these two in a drawer for a while and working on the next one. Honestly, To, I think your way is the best, for the most part. I've been advising you to stifle that and it's wrong of me.

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  6. great advice Marta!

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  7. Good points all, Marta. The one that strikes me is #3, because this is what I'm learning right now--that I deserve to be pleased as much as the rest of the world! And that's where these unspoken "issues" come in, because they are a result of standing up for myself. Over the past couple of years I've slowly realized I'm not free to say what I want, and why bother writing until I can?

    Anyway, it's good to have friends like you who support me no matter what I decide to do, and who recognize my right to do it. :)

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  8. I think women are taught that the more they sacrifice of their own happiness for others, the better women they are. This is nonsense and serves only the people who benefit from the sacrificing. I don't think following one's own dream means you are selfish. Every person on the planet has a right to dream. One of my favorite books ever, "Mama Day" by Gloria Naylor, has a couple talking about their relationship, and the main idea is that they each know they love each other to sacrifice for the other, but they also love each other enough never to ask for that sacrifice.

    Anyway, you have my support always. I'm rooting for you!

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  9. And I you, Marta. I'm going to go check out that book. I sort of don't think that kind of love exists in the real world, but that's the ideal we should strive for in our relationships.

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  10. "What I see now is, if others don’t like my work it might not get published, but that doesn’t make it less valid."

    *applause*!!

    Write because you love it, not because you want someone (or something) to love you. :)

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  11. sometimes it gets pretty close though-

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