Here’s the thing. I don’t know if I’m a good writer. Scratch that. I know I’m a good writer. I just don’t know if I’m a STRONG writer- someone whose writing is visual and hits you in all the right and wrong places. I wanna be that guy. And tonight, my insecurities were hit. HARD.
I went to my writers group and distributed my 7 pages to my fellow writers. We read it aloud, they gave me their feed back, and I took it with grace like I always do. They didn’t say anything bad, really. Just “good job” with some minor edits. Ok. Cool. A bit anticlimactic but I guess its better than getting drilled with bad feedback. So then we read another guy’s stuff, a new guy, and everyone loved it. REALLY loved it. …Hm. Ok. …little confused, but ok. Sure, I thought it was good. It was clear and it flowed well and I thought it showed a lot of promise, but…I dunno! What the F! I mean, nobody reacted that way after my stuff was read. And my scene was chalked full of dialogue and dry humor and heartfelt descriptions. Was it just because his was Sci-fi, opposed to my contemporary mildly transgressive fiction? Was it a matter of taste or was that guy’s writing really and truly more entertaining? Then suddenly I realized something: Over a dozen people in that writer’s group have read my stuff and none but maybe ONE of them actually ended up saying, “I really love the way you write.” This realization scared the shit out of me.
Now, I’ve tried to comfort myself with the logic that out of those dozen+ people, more than 80% of them are dudes. And I don’t write stuff for dudes. Sure, a guy could appreciate the material but when it comes down to it, only a woman would be able to relate to the root of my work. So…what now? Do I reevaluate my craft and question my literary style or do I convince myself that my work just hasn’t been presented to the right audience? Do I seek out people who share my influences or do I push myself to MAKE THEM like it?-Do what I do better, so much to where they can’t say “its just not my thing.” Which leads me to another realization: I hate the concept of genres! I hate genres. I want the literary aura of my writing to be universal. Something everyone can “get” and enjoy. Now, I know that will never happen. I know that the term “romance novel” will pop up more than once if I ever get published. And I will cringe. I will revert back to all the times when I finished a chapter and thought, “Is this chapter too much of a guilty pleasure? Am I writing a romance novel?” I CRINGE, I tell you, to even think that there is the possibility that my work will be categorized under ‘romance’. But this just leads me back to my original dilemma. Is my own perception of my work warped? Do I think I’m a better writer than I really am? Is my genre ‘romance’? Cause if it is, this book won’t sell. Hands down. No romance junkie wants to read a book that begins at a Planned Parenthood. Or am I wrong? Am I undermining romance junkies? Disrespecting them? Shunning them? Selling them too short? These questions are killing me. KILLING ME.
So I came home, talked to my husband about my writing woes and kissed him off to bed. Like any good friend, he offered up some advice before disappearing into the bedroom. Find another group? Have that ONE person read more of your stuff? Sell the house and move? All good suggestions but none that would solve my core problem. My insecurities.
Nope. Looks like I’m just going to have to keep on truckin’ and trustin’. I have to believe that as long as I stay true to myself and try my best to accurately execute the vision in my head to the words on the page, then all will be well. Maybe I’ll never find my audience. Maybe my work will forever be stored in electronic folders and never see the light of day. But I have to be ok with that. I have to keep my insecurities in check. Its the only way.