|Writing For Yourself|
|By Joseph R. Reuther|
|ost writers have had aspirations of fame, fortune, and critical acclaim. They see visions of lucrative book deals, autograph sessions, and talk show appearances. And why not? We have seen others of our kind reach these lofty heights. It seems that once you make a name for yourself, best-selling books just magically appear on the shelves and the world is your oyster.
Well, it doesnt work that way for most of us, at least not in the beginning. Every writers beginning is meager, chock full of mistakes that make them blush as they become more experienced in the craft. Some might wish to bypass this period, yet this is where writers truly establish themselves in their own mind; this awkward stage is crucial in determining just what type of writer you will eventually become. It is a time for experimentation. It is a time to reign in your folly and lay it out flat before you. It is a time to be diligent in your work habits and become increasingly aware of where your talents and shortcomings lie. But most of all, it is a period where the writer makes decisions that will cement his place in the literary community.
Your first efforts, however humble they may be, are your own. You are the one that will ultimately judge their worth, comparing these works with the expectations you have set for yourself. This is not the time to worry about how others will receive your writing. If constructive criticism is offered, accept it at face value. A critic may not like a particular aspect of your writing. Fine. Here is where you begin to solidify your views on your work.
A critic, editor, or friend may say, for instance, that your characters lack definition. Dont get discouraged and relinquish yourself to the opinions of others. Dont make wholesale changes hastily. Take what they have to say and apply it as objectively as possible to your story.
Could they have misunderstood your intentions? Was there a particularly tricky passage that may have been misunderstood, thereby leading to the criticism?
View your work on your own terms, but do it objectively. Dont cheat yourself and call it good enough. That is not the attitude you carried when you began writing, so why adopt it? If, after thorough investigation, you agree with the criticism, edit the piece, but do so to your liking. You owe it to yourself to put forth the best that you have to offer; not necessarily what others think is best. If, after careful consideration, you find that you disagree with your critic, it is doubtful that you will be happy with yourself if you cater to their wishes, just to please them.
Embrace the genius that lies within you. Allow it to flow through your fingers, putting the best of yourself onto the paper. Please yourself first. It is likely that your critics will follow suit.