I’ve come to the startling realization that I’m not J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Charles Dickens, or even Leo Tolstoy. Which was disappointing because when I was 14, I wanted to be as great as any of them. However, can anyone imagine me as J.A. McClary? Maybe J.F. Strange, but not the other way. So, in a way, while disappointed, I’m a bit relieved that I’m not any of these greats….won’t stop me from trying, but still.
I’ve even grudgingly accepted that I may not be Stephen King, Laurel Hamilton, Tom Clancy, David Eddings, or even Lee Child. Or any of our greats today, whether they are still great is up to the studio audience.
But, yeah, I’m none of them. I’m me, which is great in my opinion because 90% of the time I like being me. I don’t think anyone can be me in quite the same way. For the 10% that I don’t like being me, it’s a work in progress. Considering I’m about to turn 32 and how the percentages weigh out in relation to my personal enjoyment of my life, I think I’m doing fairly well.
Yet, these realizations also bring about another shocking reality. Some members of my family wants me to be like all those I’ve mentioned before. Which is fine. And flattering, did I mention flattering? The idea that they believe I can be as insightful, as enthralling, as any of those famous people (albeit probably famous in their each individual spheres) is a real head turner.
I’m not. No, really, I’m not.
Instead, I’m me. I’m my own writer with my own motivations, my own skills, and my own drives. Which is good, because in a way, since all those writers above have wowed individuals with their own skill, if I was like them then it would be just the same type over and over again. Can we say boring?
(At this moment I feel compelled to add a disclaimer that while each author mentioned has their own style and message to their writing, what makes them great isn’t the precise story that they’ve chosen to tell, but how they told it. What has made each of them unique is their voice, their deeper nature shinning through into the light for all of us to enjoy…or at least, that is what made them great to me)
Then, there is another fact that, I know will get rotten fruit thrown at me by at least one person, that the first list of writers I mentioned has the fault with their stuff being so in-depth and intense that most can only read it once and never pick it up again despite having it in their library. I know because I’m one of them. Hacking through Lord of the Reigns is sure to take me at least a year due to how much information he has provided. Moby Dick was fantastic, but I can only read about Ahab and his whale so many times before I get sleepy just thinking about it….
You may all now throw fruit at my picture and kindly avoid hitting me if you please…..
Done? Great, back to my rant.
I want to say a week ago, maybe longer, I was told by one of those members of my family that I’m still trying to find my voice. That half of my stuff reads more like I’m just trying to have fun rather than say something. It puzzled me up until, well, this morning. No joke, it’s been on my mind waiting for some kind of explanation to leak out of my ears.
The conclusion I’ve come to is that he’s probably right. I haven’t found my voice or the deeper nature that is meant to shine through my writing. But I also realize that the greats, their first works, probably wasn’t all that great either. Take Stephen King for example, he rewrote a few of his books because when he went back to read them he asked himself “Why the hell did I write this?” or some variation of that question.
As for trying to have fun…damn skippy I am. My belief is that when writing isn’t fun for me any more, I need to find a new passion. I may not be one of the greats…yet, but I’m pretty damn good at it in my opinion. It has taken me a number of years to realize that until I think I’m good, I can’t expect anyone else to think it.
- Stephen King on Writing (theengagingbrand.typepad.com)
- The Greatest Books of All Time, as Voted by 125 Famous Authors (theatlantic.com)
- How Do You Become A Better Writer? (wdlady.wordpress.com)