Thursday, March 20, 2014

Just Tell Your Story

So I love my fans. 

I do. 

Every single one. 

It’s a little mind-boggling to think that I even have fans—as I sit here and type this on my work computer during a slow point in my banal, everyday workday—so I’m ever so grateful to anyone who takes the time to read the bits of myself that I put out there.

And I love it when people write to me about how to write their own stories. How to begin the process of becoming that sometimes mythical creature called “writer.”

But, when it happens, a part of me sits back disbelieving at my screen and asks, “Who me? You’re asking me?”

I’m some smutty-mouthed porn writer who still feels so small in the vast literary world. There has got to be someone better to ask.

But maybe there’s not.

I’ve been where many of my fans are. Hell, I’m only a few short years and a novel away from that place. I know exactly what it feels like to hold a finished piece of wonder in your hand and marvel at its existence while also wondering “What now?” I know what it’s like to dream big, to think, if I could just get it published, my life will change, while also doubting myself and wondering whether it’s—whether I’m—good enough.

And, if I could give just one piece of advice to anyone who wants to be a published author, it would be: You’ll never know until you try.

I remember thinking that getting published was an unthinkable task that would just have to wait until my book was ready. Was perfect. Until every typo had been eradicated. Until the prose was exactly right. Until I couldn’t think of a single thing to change to make it better. 

And, for years, I whittled away at my novel—shifting commas and adding and subtracting sections. Sure that one day—one day—my book would be perfect and then I’d feel ready to send it off.

But I never did.

If I’m honest, even as I sent it off—even as I sent my publisher the for-realsies, final-edit-before-release copy—I never felt ready. To this day, I’ve yet to re-read my novel in release-copy form, for fear that I’ll see a missed typo or an opportunity for revision. Because a part of me knows that I sent my literary baby off into the world unfinished.

But that’s what you do with children.

You raise them from nothing, fill them with all that you know, prepare them as much as you can, then…you let them go. You let them loose into the world, imperfect as they are, and hope someone will love them as much as you do.

And, if you’re lucky, someone does.

And that’s my super-secret authorial wisdom from someone who feels like anything but an expert in all this: Tell your story. Write it. Love it. Work on it. Finish it. Fix it. Then spread it. Get it out to as many people as you can, however you can.

You may never be the next big novelist—hell, I’ve no illusions that I am or ever will be—but your life will change. You’ll have become a different person through the process.

Successful or not, prolific or not, hell, paid or not, you’ll have become a writer.

And, for those of us who do it because we love it—because we have to, have no other choice but to—you’ll be surprised by how that really is enough.

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