From my own experience and the many emerging authors I’ve spoken to over the years, there’s a lot of pain in this writing gig of ours.
It goes beyond the sting of having a cherished manuscript rejected for the fiftieth time. It’s the question we’re left asking ourselves: Does no-one want to read my work? Will no-one ever hear my message?
I felt this same pain back when I was studying violin at university. In my efforts to master the instrument I realized that no matter how much I practiced, no matter how much I worked to hone my skills, there would always be someone better than me. Someone with more style, flare and natural talent than I could ever hope to possess.
I kept asking myself, With so many gifted violinists out there, who'd ever want to listen to me?
The answer I ultimately came up with – the one that kept me going through years of audition failures and less-than stellar performances – was the same one I give myself today: Just because we can all speak, doesn’t mean we all have the same thing to say.
Back then I was talking about the language of music. Today it’s the language of written story telling.
Like the characters we authors write about, each of us has a unique backstory, a perspective on life different from any other. There are stories that will never be told unless we tell them. And despite the shortcomings that even the best author has, our message can still be heard if we say it with passion.
Your audience might only be small but your work can still have a powerful impact. There’s the concert violinist who performs in a hugh hall to hundreds of adoring fans. But there’s also the rising student who plays to a roomful of family and friends at social gatherings. Both have the power to move their listeners, to provide them moments of joy and release.
When I listen to my early recitals I often cringe at the bumbled notes and awkward phrasing. But every now and then there’s a passage that truly sings, a moment where, even with my limited skills, I managed to say what was in my heart.
I'm not saying passion is all you need and that craft doesn't matter. I'm saying that passion can and often does impact readers even when an author's skills are still developing.
Perhaps Bradley Cooper said it best with his line from the movie, A Star Is Born – ‘Everyone in this room has talent. Talent doesn’t matter. What matters is if you have something to say.’