Wednesday, July 5, 2017

You Know What You Should Do (An IWSG Post)

Hello, all!

It's the first Wednesday of the month, which means it's time for another action-packed installment of the Insecure Writers Support Group!

(I'm assuming that, by now, anyone coming to this blog will know all about the IWSG, but if you're new and you'd like more information, or a complete list of participants, please click on the above link.)

This month's fabulous co-hosts are Tamara Narayan, Pat Hatt, Patricia Lynne, Juneta Key, and Doreen McGettigan.

This month's question asks, "What is one valuable lesson you have learned since you started writing?"


Which I'm kind of answering. Or might be answering. I'm not sure yet. We'll have to see how the post goes.

All right, so, back in New England, I belonged to a writers group. And, for a while, there was a member of this group with whom I would constantly butt heads. If we both attended a meeting, there was a better-than-excellent chance that we would end up having an argument. There was one very simple reason for this:

He thought he knew what every writer should be doing.

Every writer, he would say, should want an agent and a big six (or is it five now? Wasn't there a merge in there somewhere?) publisher. Every writer should want to be on a bestsellers' list somewhere. Every writer should want a movie deal. Every writer should want fame and fortune.

"Otherwise," he would say, "what's the point in being a writer?"

Well, I took great offense at this. Because not every writer is the same. Not every writer wants the same things. In that particular group, we had a few members interested in publishing, but more weren't. It was just the composition of that particular group. There was a woman who composed poetry simply because she liked it, and quite a few members who were writing their memoirs and/or family histories because they wanted their children or grandchildren to have them. They weren't interested in publishing. They wrote for the joy of writing.

And that man just couldn't comprehend it. So we fought a lot. Because he would make these writers feel bad about what they wanted. He would make them feel like something was wrong with them because their goals weren't his goals.

And that pissed me off. So I told him. Loudly. And frequently.

Because I am a firm believer that all writers are different and, therefore, may want different things. And no one gets to decide what those things are but you, the writer.

Because it's your work.

Want to keep everything you've written in a box under your bed? Okay. Want to get yourself an agent and a big six (five?) publisher? Good for you. Want to self-publish your masterpiece? Great. Want to have a bunch of photocopies made at your local Staples to hand out on street corners? Wear sunscreen. Don't know what you want to do? Do the research, talk to the people who have been through it, and then decide.

But always remember that the decision belongs to you. There may be people who don't like it, wouldn't have chosen it for themselves, and think you're crazy, but who cares? As my good friend, Tina Fey, would say...




But that's my opinion. We welcome yours.

37 comments:

  1. Wise words, MJ! Everyone's path is different. Good on you for standing up to that guy. Hope he didn't crush anyone's spirit.

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    1. Thanks, Alex. I hope he didn't, either.

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  2. Indeed! In fact, when I meet a writer who is examining possible roads to publication, I always have the "what do you want" discussion. It's a different road for everyone.

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    1. Yeah, that "What do you want" discussion is so important. I've had quite a few of those talks, too—usually to myself in the mirror, though...

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  3. YES! MJ, I am totally on your side and in your corner. I've had a couple of those conversations before, and have had my share of disdain directed at me for choosing a self-publishing route. It just sets my teeth on edge.

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    1. So yes, I love that disdain. This particular guy was full of it. We fought about that, too.

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  4. Going toe-to-toe with someone who doesn't listen is taxing. Glad you stood your ground and I agree, do what works for you.

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    1. It is taxing. After so many of those encounters, I was just so wiped out and irritated afterward.

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  5. I would've taken offense to that, too. Although, I may want those things. ;) But writers are free to do what they want. We all want different things, for different reasons, as is our right.

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    1. I was pursuing publishing (still am...), and I just so mad that he couldn't be respectful of someone else's desire to not pursue it. Seemed like such a stupid thing to be a jerk about, but I guess that's the definition of 'jerk,' right?

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  6. Awesome post! I whole-heartedly agree. I hate it when a writer states that one way is the right way. We're all different and that's marvelous.

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    1. It is marvelous—and I LOVE that. I love learning about other writers' journeys. Imagine how boring that would be if they were all the same.

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  7. If that's what that guy wants then great and he should go for it. But we all run our own race and should be able to do so in peace. Even if you move as slowly as I do. :)

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  8. That guy sounds like a jerk. Glad you told him off. And I think you're right. It's down to a big 5.

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    1. He was a jerk. I really hope he didn't go back to the group after I moved away.

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  9. I find writers speaking in absolutes sometimes about writing and/or publishing--but nothing is absolute in writing or publishing, so butt out of anybody else's business! Good for you for telling him off.

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    1. I agree—there are no absolutes in this business. Unless it's that it will absolutely take me three times as long to complete something as I think it will...

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  10. Thank you for stating this!!! I heartily agree. We are all writers, we all have different needs/wants/dreams/hopes for our writing.

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  11. Ugh, I hate people like that. I would have told him loudly and frequently too.

    I think that was a great answer to the question.

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  12. I do kinda want those things but I think if you only set your mind on that then you'll most likely end up disappointed. I'd really just like to have my book done and published so people could read it! Would I hate it being a bestseller? No, but it's probably not gonna happen. Everybody has their own goals that work for them.

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  13. So true. I'm a firm believer in "walk your own path". Everyone's path is different.

    Was there a Firefly marathon on yesterday? Or did you make your own? (I'm seeing the quote stream on your Twitter yesterday.)

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  14. There are so many paths now. I bet that guy will miss his since he was determined to follow only one.

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  15. I think you answered the question: Write for the reason you want to write.

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  16. "the decision belongs to you" --- so very true-- you need to decide the writer you want to be.

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  17. You're so right. Everyone makes their own decisions, and no one path is a true path. There are many different paths, enough for all of us.

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  18. I write because I love to write, and I love to create stories. If other people happen to like the stories I write, then that's just an added bonus.

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  19. Great post! And that guy has shown up in a lot of writing groups. Sorry he made yours less than fun.

    @mirymom1 from
    Balancing Act

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  20. Amen to everything you said. I got myself into such a state thinking I HAD to have those things that I forgot that I started writing because it brought me so much joy and almost gave up. People like that guy are unbearable and I don't understand why "live and let live" is such a hard concept for some people to grasp.

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  21. i wish i was in that writer's group - i'd pay just to watch! ha ha
    btw, are you in one where you live now? i know of a couple near me, but i'm not sure i'd like it...

    ps - i'll send you two princesses, plus the info. thanks for offering to give it a shout!

    i've been slack on the blogging as well...
    and good luck with camp nano! i'm excited to hear how the new/revisited novel goes!

    Tara Tyler Talks

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  22. Completely agree with you. No two paths are the same, nor should they be. Can't imagine how headachy it must've been to put up with a guy who couldn't comprehend that!

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  23. I completely agree. I'm well aware that my writing is probably not the right fit for a big 6/5/4/3 (who knows, there may be just 1, one day) publisher. I have a good idea where I want to take my writing, and I'm aiming for it.

    He sounds like an interesting person to have in that group - perhaps he wasn't the right fit for you!

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  24. Definitely! We can all be writers and have different goals for said writing and that's perfectly okay. I just don't get those that think so narrowly.

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  25. You are awesome! You spoke up for others and yourself. Sometimes I meet other writers that think they know better about what I should write, and I ignore them. But I really wish I had the balls to tell them to piss off. I think I will say that the next time. Thank you for standing up for other writers, M.J.

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  26. I totally agree. And that dude was an ass.

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  27. Those goals of his are lofty but unrealistic for every writer. Glad you let him know how you felt.

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