An Inner Pep Talk About Writing
I was thinking about Bunmi Laditan’s new book, Confessions of a Domestic Failure.
Laditan is one of my favorite authors. I've starred her page on Facebook so she appears at the top of my feed, and I hang on to every word of her posts. Yet I haven’t bought her new book, simply because I have too many other books to read.
I'm a big fan! I'm an avid reader! I have discretionary income that I spend on books! If I haven't bought her book, then what hope is there for my own little book?
Her book has broad appeal. My book will likely never be a mass market paperback. And I’m not sure I want to be a mass market author. I certainly don’t want a rigorous speaking and signing schedule. Not at this stage of my life, anyway. I don’t particularly want to quit my job.
So what do I want?
Two things. I want to be read, and I want to be respected for my craft.
I guess I can accomplish those two goals and still take my time. In fact, if I want to achieve the latter, then it’s imperative I take my time, and don’t just scatter my work around to any vanity publication that will take it.
(Roxane Gay is a single, childless woman! Of course she’s prolific!)
To be respected, therefore, means I have to be comfortable in delaying my first goal: being read. I still have to be vigilant. The composing of research and ideas brings such lovely layers to a work. And that doesn’t happen without time and attention. It requires writing in your head, even when you're not writing, and capturing good ideas when they come so that they don’t disappear into the ether. That part’s crucial.
And what do I want to write about?
I want to tell a compelling story that challenges the way people think about dark topics. We’re so titillated by dark topics. We peek, gleefully, through our fingers. But we’re so quick to deny any darkness within ourselves. And that's a shame, because there's beauty to be found there, too.