Ran across Dear Polly: Should I just Give up on my Writing? today and it really hit a note with me. The person asking Polly the question explains that she feels like her writing career isn’t going anywhere and she hadn’t achieved popularity with readers. (It’s much deeper than that, so I recommend giving the article a read.)
The reason it struck a chord with me was that, while I know, deep down, that I really write for the pleasure of writing, it’s difficult not to get caught up in the idea of gaining popularity, becoming a bestseller, making more than a living wage (or making any kind of wage off one’s writing career). It’s easy to fall into the rut of changing our writing to match what we think our readers want. As in, “Will they buy my book if I change the main character to be male?”” Or, “If I create a love interest (that in my opinion is a ridiculous pairing of characters), will that generate more readership?”
And then I read Polly’s answer, and two things jumped out at me.
She says, “You can’t try to ‘reach’ some imagined mob of dipshits, molding your work to match their dipshitty tastes. Be a lovely odd duck instead, one who hardly notices if people are booing or cheering.”
And then she went on to say, “Every Day a Writer Starts Over.”
I read those words today and thought: Yeah. So true. I might leave off work in the middle of a chapter, the middle of a paragraph, hell the middle of a sentence, but the next day I end up starting over. Or when I finish a work, I start over. I find it very true that we are always beginning again as writers. Even those who have made it “big” in the writing business have to start over every time they write a new book.
So, I don’t know what the person who asked the question of Polly will do, but I’m going to keep writing. I’m going to keep starting over.