I want my novel in the top 100 Amazon.
I want to be a famous author.
I want everyone to love me and my book.
Things we hear and see every day from writers all over the world.
What we don’t see is the follow-up. We don’t hear about the work they are putting in to make their book the best it can be.
What do they plan to do to make their stuff stand out?
Last night, I had the rare luxury of watching part of a Duck Dynasty marathon. I don’t like TV. I don’t have time for TV. But I made an exception after the hell that was last week. I was about halfway through the episode where Jas and Willie take their wives hunting when my husband came in and started talking over it. Not just a few words. Not a quick reminder about something. An actual conversation he insisted on continuing even when I asked him to wait for a commercial.
“What? Like you don’t know how it will end? Their taking their wives hunting. There are no surprises here,” he said.
Which is true.
“But it’s not about the end,” I said. “It’s about the telling of the story.”
The fact that their wives are too loud, constantly complaining and couldn’t hit their target with a bus is what makes it funny. The nuances. The details. Which I couldn’t f*cking hear because he wouldn’t shut up.
I wanted to be entertained. Taken away.
It’s the same with writing.
The only unique thing we can bring to any story is ourselves. Every tale has been told. But our perspective – the nuances and details we add – are what make it different, entertaining.
If someone doesn’t love what you say or how you say it, they don’t have to read your work. But you can’t spend hours trying to bend your words to suit everyone. That’s how writers get blocked. Remember my hackneyed phrase: The best thing you can do for yourself, your writing and your readers is to be you.
We have seen every storyline in Duck Dynasty. Crap, some of them are throw-backs to the Brady Bunch-era. We don’t watch the show because we expect a new story. We watch it because it reminds us of how we have all felt. Things we have all done. The characters are innately human. We empathize with them. Their actions and words are easy to understand. They are likeable, goddammit.
And they do all of that by being who they are. (Especially Si.)
So what are you doing right now, today, to make sure your storytelling is true to you? Who are you and why does your work matter? It’s not a rhetorical question. Tell me in the comments.
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