“If you don’t see the book you want on the shelf, write it.”
I’ve seen this quote a few times now, and it has never failed to give me comfort.
Even though I started writing really early in life, I never wanted to show my stories to anyone. I never thought people would want to read my words. They were too personal, too niche, too embarrassingly badly written…etc.
The point is, those are a ton of excuses. And we can all make as many excuses as we want, but at the end of the day, our work deserves to be seen. We may think it’s just for our eyes, but chances are, someone will want to read it. Someone will want to fall for your characters like you did while bringing them into existence.
It took me far too long in the journey to realize this. I procrastinated for years. The book I’m trying to publish now was “finished” nearly six years ago. Of course, through editing, it’s pretty unrecognizable from that first draft now… but the point is still the same.
I was scared. I wrote the book I wanted to read on the shelf, but I was scared no one else would pick it up.
Truth is, I’m still scared. Especially with all the rejections. It’s one thing to write a story and think it’s terrible internally, but another thing to have 100 people say they don’t want it.
You get one type of confidence when you finally gain the courage to show what you’ve written to that first person ever.
For me, it came when I abashedly showed a friend my manuscript in our high school library. I can’t quite remember how I gained the courage to do so, but once I did, he changed my life. I don’t tell him enough, but I wouldn’t be doing what I am now without him.
The next type of confidence comes when someone in the industry believes in you.
For me, that was when I got my wonderful editor, Crystal. She made me realize something that was also extremely important: my story can work and it’s not out of the realm of possibility to get it published.
Having someone in the industry believe in you is fantastic, but it will never overtake the feeling I had when that first friend gave me positive feedback. He told me people needed to see it, and he was right. I am confident in that now, so thanks Robbie. (As always.)
I get it—we’re all scared. Writers are notoriously scared. We’re scared of rejection, scared we’re never good enough, scared of so many things. (Especially being in a creative writing program like I was, it constantly gave me a self-confidence hit to be surrounded by so many talented writers every day!)
But the one thing we’re good at is persevering.
So, if you have a story you think no one will read, just write it. I’ll pick it up off the shelf one day.