One of the things I absolutely love about National Novel Writing Month, are the Pep Talks. Emails from published authors, encouraging all the writers out there to keep on writing.
Today’s Pep Talk was from Nick Hornby. His words of encouragement need to be shared with the wider writing world. All of us who worry that our work is not good enough, who judge our work based on the ideas/rules/perceptions of others (which, lets face, it probably everyone!), need to read his email, and print it out, and stick it somewhere so we can remember what he says.
I will try to paraphrase Nick’s words here – but if you’d like to get the full impact of what he has to say, click here to check out the pep talk!
(And for those who don’t know – Nick wrote the books “About a Boy”, “High Fidelity” and “Fever Pitch” all of which have been turned into films!)
Every writer questions whether they are good enough – whether there is a stick by which we can measure the validity or otherwise of our work. But as Nick points out – art is subjective. Not everyone agrees that Shakespeare was a great author (and lets not get into a debate about whether he really did the writing, or simply stole someone else’s work). Some people say that a good novel takes between 2 and 7 years to write – but P G Wodehouse wrote 98 books in his 75 year career (and that’s not counting his plays).
“It’s a mess, the arts. Critics don’t agree with each other, readers don’t agree with critics. And real writers—if I may become definitive for a moment—change their minds about their own worth and talent somewhere between two and seven hundred times a day.
I’m trying to tell you that your own opinion of your work is entirely irrelevant, and so is the opinion of others. You have a job to do, and that job is to write a novel.”
I love that line “your own opinion of your work is entirely irrelevant, and so is the opinion of others”. Of course, I would think that if the larger percentage of “others” tell you your work is bad, perhaps you should listen to them – but then again if your work reaches even one person who – to paraphrase Lemony Snickett (see this pep talk) – takes it to heart and feels an effect in their life from your words – surely you have still achieved something as a writer, and that one thing is not to be sneered at.
Being a writer is far from easy. I send my stories out to different people – they come back with different ideas on what needs fixing. If the majority come back and say the same thing needs fixing, I fix it. But what if only half say there’s a problem with x,y,z…? What if only a few say “such and such is lacking”? I guess that is the point where personal preference must shine through – what do I like best? It is my work after all, and if I am sending it out into the world, it is important it has my mark, not the mark of others.
Today is the day I draw the last copy of The Secret Keeper. And I was going to try and do something original to draw the winner, but instead I will just flip a coin, as the only commentors we have had (who haven’t previously won!) have been Bec, and Laura Kay, (and anonymous – but as I can’t confirm your identity you’ll have to miss out this time!! Feel free to post again though! 🙂
And the winner is! Bec!!
Yay!! I’ll send you an email shortly Congratulations!! 😀