It seems that all my life I’ve been under the authority of those who primarily used me to fulfill their own agenda, caring little about my own small dreams and aspirations. I remember specifically, as a child making cards for my mom, carefully choosing a color palette, writing a few lines of stilted poetry and drawing a pastoral scene on the cover. It was only natural for me to try to please a parent. It is what kids do.
Unfortunately, my mom’s taste was more discriminating than anything my small hands could produce. She admonished me that she wanted a “real” card with real poetry. I complied. And I delayed my foray into writing for another eight years.
As I age, my mom has been replaced by potential editors who recommended radical changes to my writing style and genres for which I had no interest. I’ve frequented social writing groups who politely skimmed my flayed emotional innards, and as I joined the “legitimate” workforce my creativity has been relegated to the occasional process flow or informational email. I have conformed to the needs and expectations of so many other people that sometimes I lose my own identity in the morass bosses and coworkers and needy family members.
I know I could write if it wasn’t for all the people…
Dear one, the truth is, as much as I desire to exhort you, to inspire and encourage you, I must be honest with you. The people who malign you, who misunderstand you or who just plain seem to irritate the stuffing out of you until you can’t even think of picking up a pen—as much as you’d love to wave a hand and mute them all for an hour or a day—people are not going to go away.
Unfortunately, the more you write, the more you will be compared, critiqued, and categorized. And unless you are fulfilled in creating for your eyes alone (and if you are, that’s okay) you will have to come to terms with the fact that other people exist and will exercise their free will regarding your work.
So what can you do? Do you give up altogether because you simply can’t deal with one more judge in your immediate vicinity? I can tell you that sometimes, when we lay down a gift, we lose it forever. But most of the time, if the gift is innate to us, it doesn’t lay silent. It doesn’t behave. It festers and busts out when least appropriate.
Giving up really isn’t an option and stifling it won’t help you. You simply need to set parameters for your creative endeavors. Settle it in your heart that your ability is as unique as your fingerprint, no matter how often you are compared to someone else. You are the only you there is. Steward the precious work of your hands appropriately. Share it only with those whose opinions and perhaps correction matter. And don’t allow yourself to be bullied by some editor with too much to read and not enough concern for you as a real writer.
Of course, if you’re sending writing in for publication, make sure you’ve edited and re-edited and that you are writing in line with the parameters of the publishing house. Beyond that, dear writer, to thine own self be true.
People and publication and any other form of external acceptance does not make you a writer. Writing makes you a writer. So be encouraged. Writing and creativity is organic. It ebbs and flows. It and you will change over time. You can share your work, cultivate your talent as you see fit. It is yours. An extension of you. So embrace it and walk out your dream.
Tammy Boehm, Associate Editor