A couple years ago, I decided to apply for a freelance writing gig. Part of the process asked me several questions about my favorite books now, my favorite books when I was a kid, and what genre I write. As I filled in my answers, I noticed something strange. Back then, I was still writing contemporary fantasy, fairytale retellings, stories with paranormal elements. But the majority of my favorite books were bittersweet, heartfelt contemporaries, with WALK TWO MOONS taking the cake.
It made me pause. What would the people reading this application think about that?
About six months later, I whined in a group on facebook about how I love really flowing, beautiful, lyrical writing. But how I just CAN’T write like that. I write short, and to the point, and sarcastic. A discussion ensued with several people saying there were all sorts of styles of writing, which is true. But my heart still longed to write like Kate DiCamillo and Sharon Creech.
Then I wrote my next book. And the first draft was a very short, choppy, semi-sarcastic book with paranormal elements. I didn’t like the voice. It was almost nonexistent. So I rewrote it….in a lovely, lyrical voice.
And I realized something. All this time, I didn’t think I could write like that. But I could! I just had to stop telling myself I couldn’t and actually give it a try. And guess what? All that reading of those books I love helped me write the way I loved.
Then Pitch Wars happened, and you probably know the story from here. But my mentor suggested I consider removing the paranormal elements from my story and taking it straight contemporary. I balked. I CAN’T write contemporary. I can’t make a story interesting and exciting without magic.
Wrong again. I can. And the truth is, I’m pretty dang good at it.
I don’t consider the years I spent writing sarcastic fairytale retellings as a waste. Not at all. I learned a ton. But if I could go back and tell myself something, it would be this.
Don’t be afraid. Those kind of books you love? You can write them. You’re good enough. The inspiration will flow. Stop holding yourself back.
And so now I’m telling you.
You’re good enough. You’re smart enough. And gosh darnit, people like you!
Go out there and write what you love to read.