I took a class on writing in my 20’s and after reading aloud the first chapter of the first draft of my story, the instructor said, “That could never happen. It’s totally unrealistic.” The critique went downhill from there. Of course, it was a page from my life and was totally “realistic.” I was mortified and left after that first session and never went back.
It took many more years for my writing to find me again. I joined a very tough writers’ group of professional writers who had no problem telling their fellow writers their truth. Writers would come and writers who couldn’t take the truth about their writing would drop by the wayside over the years. I used to come out of those Tuesday night meetings with a very bad headache at times, but I didn’t quit. In fact, I listened hard, soaked up their lessons, and a fictional memoir came after ten years of writing and polishing, polishing, polishing.
The hardback of The Protest, was accepted at the corporate level by Barnes & Noble and I toured the country doing readings. I was hugged by one reader who said, “Thank you for writing this story.” She told me about her similar experience and how she was ex-communicated from her church and lost not only her church but her family and friends. But best of all, she told me how my story brought meaning back to her life and gave her hope. Another reader said she couldn’t put it down, and even figured out a way to blow dry her hair while reading it. On the other hand, a very good friend said he did not care for my book at all – neither did his girlfriend or her mother. But he didn’t say it with that much kindness… and the comment just rolled off my back. I understand that almost no writer appeals to all readers. But I know my book has a strong following of readers. And with the new technology available, I’ll be releasing it as an e-book in March 2015 through Amazon.
If you have a passion to write, then it doesn’t matter what anyone thinks. However, that doesn’t mean if you want to publish you shouldn’t strive to make your writing the best it can be. Find a brutal writing group that will tell you honestly about your writing’s strengths and weaknesses, read whatever you can lay your hands on to learn about how to make your writing more professional and less amateur, read books to study how writers you admire “do it,” and understand how important it is to spend the time necessary to polish, polish, polish. Learn to be the best writer you can be — because no one can tell your story but you.