“You can’t do that, Angela,” so said several people to me over the last ten years or so.
“Why not?” said I with an additional riposte of, “And says who?”
The answer was always the same. “I was at a writer’s conference and Book Agents Du Jour all agreed and said new authors [read, anyone not published by a well-known publisher] aren’t allowed to do that. Only well-known authors are allowed.”
What that was is immaterial to this conversation because after being chided too many times by people who were in the same boat as I and for a hell of a lot longer, I finally stopped allowing patience to rule and barked back at them with logic.
Like water off the deck of a ship, my logic ran off of their brain and failed to impress them because — this is important, so pay attention — they were cowed with fear.
Fear. I could smell it on them. It was in their eyes.
Fear and Desperation.
Fear stopped them from writing what they needed to.
Desperation kept them chasing the wrong goal: They were trying to impress gatekeepers with their ability to follow rules.
So they second- and triple-guessed themselves to death until what was left of their book was…nothing like what they wanted it to be, and the life all sucked out of it.
They sold their vision in order to get a gold star in the rule-following column and to prove they knew their place.
But what did it get them? A quicker hearing ear? A more favorable read?
Just wasted years and busted hopes as letter after letter arrived with You aren’t good enough, you have to pay your dues, you know.
They believed if new authors did that, it only showed they had not paid their dues, they have a big ego, they aren’t grateful, they have a big ego (yes, I said it twice), and by God and by Golly, how dare anyone believe they write as good as [insert the agents’ fave author names here].
Let me tell you something: It takes a big ego to write a book, put your name on it, and then send it out for the world to read.
It especially takes a big ego to write something different.
Having a big ego does not mean one is not humble.
Acting humble doesn’t mean one isn’t too big for their britches.
I know a few people who are proud of their humility. You know you can’t stand to be around those types because they never let us forget they sure are — nose in air and little sniff of disdain — holier than thou, thou, and thou.
I put a lot of effort, time, attention, and thought into my craft. Yes, my craft. I get others to read my words. I get them to tell me what is wrong.
I listen to them.
I do all this before I even think of sending anything to a publisher or agent.
I do all this before because I don’t want to waste their time or mine.
You see, I am considerate of their time.
So I will not apologize for saying that I am good as — or better than — any other writer.
And I will not allow Fear and its sister, Desperation, to stop me from being the best advocate I can be for my books.
I implore other writers to stop trying to keep rules, and instead, get to writing.
Next time I shall write about: It especially takes a big ego to write something different.