One of the Pep Talks for NaNoWriMo came from Dean Koontz, and boy was it timely. The other day, I heard some negative feedback about Black Borne that spoke directly to my insecurities. I think that even if I was blessed with a bestseller someday, there will still be a kernel of doubt about my writing. So I had to reread Koontz's Pep Talk so that I could get myself back on spiritual and mental track.
Koontz draws a clear line between worthwhile criticism and naysayers. Worthwhile criticism, he says, is specific and helpful. It comes from people with a deep experience with fiction. His Pep Talk, the second one of NaNoWriMo, was powerful in its simplicity. How many times have I told my students the same thing in slightly different words?
I knew that the moment I took a chance on my writing, not everyone would love my words or my style. But I also know how sensitive I am and how thin my skin can be. Putting your creative self out there isn't easy. I feel like a little kid waiting for that moment of approval from the adult who holds my dreams in the palm of her/his hands. But I also know that everybody is going to have something to say. That's how life goes, right?
Once we expose our dreams to the world, every person who hears them will then have the "'right" to pass judgment. It's up to us, the dreamers, to determine how that judgment will impact us. We have to decide what words to keep and which to discard. We have to decide whether to press on or to give up. We have to decide whether we have received worthwhile criticism or just empty words from naysayers.
I must admit that the first truly negative piece of criticism that I received about Black Borne made me falter. I even wondered if I should continue writing Book Two. Then I had to remember that I'm not defined by my critics. I'm not writing for them; I'm writing for me. There are stories that have lived inside me from the time I was a small child. There has always been a voice that wanted and needed to be heard. I write for the dreamer in me, for the child who unequivocally believed she was a writer. No adult doubts allowed.
I write because I have to. And even if more negativity comes my way, I will continue writing. I have no other choice.