Tuesday, January 1, 2019

2019 New Year's Resolution for Writers: To Thine Own Work Be True

Every year, at about this time, I make a special New Year's writing resolution. To my credit, I have managed to carry most of them through. In 2017 I resolved to write what I feared. That resolution had to do with stretching my boundaries. I am a fiction writer, and I have terror of writing memoirs, so I began to write one. (And it has been every bit as frightening as I thought it would be.)

The following year, in the throes of memoir-phobia, I resolved to finish. Starting new projects is fun and exciting, but actually finishing them is another matter entirely. I promised myself I would finish writing my memoir in 2018. Sad to say, I failed. (In my defense, I did write more than 80,000 words of it. And I swear I will finish it before I die.)

This year, after giving much thought to the process of writing, I have resolved to ignore my potential audience, along with the requirements of agents and editors, and simply fulfill the potential of my work the best I can.

For writers, who lately have been saddled with all sorts of marketing tasks ("Who will read your book?" "Give us three comps," "Do you have an online platform?" and so forth.), simply maintaining loyalty to your work can get short shrift. What you have to say can get overshadowed by considerations of whether it will have market appeal, and if your hypothetical audience will want to read your words.

The primary loyalty of any author should be to the work itself. You have something to say? Then say it to the best of your ability, pushing all other considerations aside until you have fully expressed yourself. Once you have finished your book, it will take on a life of its own, much like giving birth to a baby. It will have its own personality, and it will acquire meaning, often independent of the one you have given it. But that will only happen if you devote yourself to putting the work first, and all other considerations second.

Now go tell your story, the way only you can.

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