Why do we as people try to be the rule?
When I had finished Chrysalis and The Beam it’s sequel I went to a writers forum with a couple of readings and a q and a session with published authors, publishers and agents. They discussed everything about being published and I was amazed that they pushed being the rule.
“If you are trying to be the next Stephanie Meyer or J.K. Rowling you’re going to be disappointed because they were exceptions.” I’m paraphrasing because it’s not like I was taking notes.
They told of how going the self published route will make it so no traditional publishing house will take you serious and the pit falls of going with an indie publisher. Ironic, because one of the publishers on the panel wasn’t the most traditional publisher, they’d been around since the nineties and to the big houses they would be considered indie. Hmmm. I guess they could have never foreseen John Locke and his one million sales, but then again when he queried I guess he didn’t look like he followed the rule. They didn’t see the exceptional because they all said they would have tossed Stephanie Meyer’s submission without looking at it because it was a YA book with 160 thousand words. (At the time Chrysalis was at 120 thousand, guess it would have been overlooked too.)
The funny thing is, I never heard of J.K or Stephanie going to a writer’s workshop to find out how to get published or what to write. They just did it. They didn’t follow the rules, they followed their heart. Although I looked at other “classes” at this forum of writers that would help me learn what to do to make my book a success I thought about what they had said. Sure they didn’t want to encourage people by telling them it’d be a cake walk to get published, because it isn’t, but they also weren’t drawing out the best in them either.
Instead they were creating a set of bougie writers. Ones that didn’t write for the fun and enjoyment, but ones who had to find a deeper message in everything thing they write. It took me four books in the Chrysalis series before I found a deeper hidden meaning in them and if my readers don’t ever find it I’m not going to be hurt. I don’t write to preach an agenda, I write to create an escape for my readers.
There are plenty of rules to follow … here’s a few I’ve heard and I bet you’d look in any best seller and see broken. 1. No two characters can have the same first letter in their name. 2. You can’t have two paragraphs in a row that start with the same letter and absolutely not the same word. 3. Vampires can’t be sparkly. 4. You must have a social message. 5. Black guys can’t be named Oscar (HA) 6. Teenagers can’t have sex. 7. You can’t have a paragraph with just one sentence. 8. All dialog has to have a tag. 9. A young adult or middle grade book can't be over sixty thousand words. 10. Really anything goes, but ...
Okay numbers three and five weren’t from a writer’s rulebook, they were from my son, but you get my point.
Why shouldn’t I be exceptional? Why should I shoot to be the rule? If you reach for the sun and miss you’re still among the stars right? If I set my goal to just get published then what am I really achieving? If I set my goal to sell ten thousand books so I can be listed as a best seller am I over reaching? Or am I pushing myself to be exceptional?
My husband always says “I’d rather struggle all my life then live on my knees.” I refuse to be the rule and accept that I can’t be more than I am.
Every book starts out the same with a single keystroke or stroke of a pen to paper. If you as a writer limit yourself by believing the rules and not pushing yourself further you are not only doing a disservice to yourself, but your readers as well. To all my exceptional writers as we reach for the sun, if I miss, I got dibs on the first star on the right.