A Gifted Writer
If you asked a published writer for advice on becoming a writer yourself, she would certainly tell you to read as much as you can and write as much as you can. She might or might not tell you to join a writing group to get realistic feedback, and she might or might not advise you to study your genre. If she knew anything about other writers, she would definitely not tell you whether or not you should outline. And of course, she would tell you to write the book you most want to read. Or maybe she wouldn’t. Maybe this piece of advice is so axiomatic she wouldn’t even think to mention it. Why would you bother to write a book you wouldn’t read? How could you write a book you wouldn’t read? Ah, but the critical missing word here is “most.” You should write not merely a book you would want to read, but the book you would most want to read.
I have known seasoned, professional, fulltime writers who forget this word. I have known writers with bills to pay and egos to fortify whose attention has wandered from the book they would most like to write to the book that they hope would sell the most copies. The thinking goes, “I like to write, and I like all kinds of books, why not write one that will sell a million copies?” This is like the mother’s advice to her daughter: “It’s nice if you love the man you marry, but it also doesn’t hurt if he’s a doctor.”
Yes, it does hurt if you don’t love him, because the difference between marrying someone you love and someone you almost love is very much like the difference between trying to write a book you wouldn’t mind reading and a book you most want to read. To write the book you wished existed but doesn’t is to touch your greatest gift. This is what it means to be gifted, to find within yourself that which expands the loveliness of the world. First you give this gift to yourself, and then to others. It is a gift, period. Yes, it is a gift for which you will be paid, but it is a gift still, for it was given to you for the price of your time and attention.
Now you give it to others. You give it happily because isn’t it wonderful that this thing exists now? And when the others say yes, yes, yes, they are agreeing that it is so lovely that this story exists. Not you, only the story. You were lovely long before the story, and it was your loveliness that summoned it, and it was your loveliness that wrote it, and now your loveliness remains with you still, your constant and wavering gift.
Write Within Yourself: An Author's Companion. "A book to keep nearby whenever your writer's spirit needs feeding." Deb Caletti.