No Writes or Wrongs

Last week, I participated in a panel with three other incredible authors, which will be featured as a part of this weekend’s Ohioana Book Festival. We discussed various topics about our process and publication journey. Somewhere along the line, Connie Berry pulled out a take-away from our exchange, namely that our different approaches show that there’s no right or wrong course in the writing world. 

The statement resonated with me and took me back to the onset of my path to becoming an author. When I was nine years old, my mom and sister took me to a meet-and-greet with a children’s book author, Tracey Herrold, at our local library. Hearing Tracey speak about writing sowed that seed in me, but at the same time, one thing she said didn’t fly too well with me. She told us that, if we ever considered pursuing publication, non-fiction stories were easier to sell at first.

At my tender age, I didn’t know what I wanted to write, but was quite certain of one thing: I didn’t want to touch non-fiction! Call me a juvenile daydreamer if you must, but over twenty years later, I still don’t want to venture into the genre. Nonetheless, her statement stuck with me and especially my mom, who repeated it for years.

As much as I played around with the notion, the inspiration never struck me to compose a non-fiction work. In the end, I took a chance and started down the fictional road, hoping I wouldn’t look back later with regret. Truth be told, I don’t think I would’ve ever begun to write if I’d tried to tackle something I didn’t want to, just because of somebody else’s experience.

The writing world is vast, and the window into it is opaque. Because of that, it’s advisable to ask questions to those who have experience in it if we have the chance. Even so, we need to strike a balance when it comes to taking advice. While we benefit from listening to others, we shouldn’t take every word as if it’s the law. Every writer has a different journey, so we can’t assume a roadblock for them will be a roadblock for us…or that a shortcut for them will be a shortcut for us.

There’s no set map to having success in the writing world, and for that matter, we each have our own definition of success. Like with many other aspects of life, we can elicit or share advice, but we need to couple it with respect. Just as we won’t have the same experience as the author on our right, the author on our left won’t have the same experience as us. They may ask for our input, but if they don’t follow it, it doesn’t mean they won’t succeed. As fellow travelers on the same yet wildly different journey, the best thing we can do is support one another through the rocky beginnings, the jerky bumps, and the exhilarating climbs.

You can view the Building a Mystery panel here, beginning Friday, April 29 at 10am EDT

Features Connie Berry, TG Wolff, Robin Yocum & Karina Bartow

Also See

The Education of Writing

3 thoughts on “No Writes or Wrongs

  1. Totally agreed! Not only do we each have our own paths to take, but we also have our own styles that may go against the established writing canon, and that’s okay too. I always see red flags when other writers offer absolute advice, like ‘never use adverbs’ or ‘show don’t tell’. Anyway, thanks for this post!

    Liked by 1 person

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