“The one thing you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision…” Neil Gaiman
It is so daunting to think of the sheer mass of competition in the literary world! These days, it seems like everybody’s hobby is writing and they’re all rushing to publish books. And it doesn’t take long for your brain to exploit your sensitivity to the kind of talent you fear you’ll be measured against. Quickly following is your heart, hungover from the binge on hope you’ve experienced since just having completed a novel.
But Neil, as Neil always does, chooses the perfect words as tonic for this setback and disappointment.
“The one thing you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision…”
This quote highlights the number one tool you have over any other writer: YOU!!!
You you you you you you you! From your fingerprints that are particular to you to your path in life that has never been (and never will be) perfectly replicated by another human being. The stories waiting inside you (trust me: they’re there) are perfectly, uniquely, unquenchably yours. And something divine and mystic about the world will miss your voice if you let a lack of confidence keep you from sharing it.
Aside from a simple feeling of “rightness” that what I just said is true, there are other, more mundane factors to put your mind at ease and bolster your confidence.
- Thankfully, millions of readers on Earth today will read more than one book in their lifetime. You’re a writer, so you’re probably a reader. Can you imagine closing the back cover on your latest read and declaring, “Well, reading was fun. That’s enough, though. Forever. Now, how about I completely dedicate all of my remaining time to croquet…”?! No? No. Readers are always looking for something new to read. Determine your audience, target them, then shoot your latest novel their way. YOU ARE THE HOT NEW THING TO READ!
- While we’re on the subject of reading, I encourage you to read (I don’t care if you’ve already arranged the wickets in the yard). Specifically, I encourage you to read local literature. A couple of things will happen: you will find (if you have resourced beta-readers and copy-editors and have admitted, once in while, that not all of your ideas and precious phrasings are gold) that your book actually is a gem amid very few gems and you will learn ways to improve (because we learn something about writing every time we read). Then I encourage you to tell the world about the gems you do find with stars and reviews!
- Be prolific yourself! With one book to your credit, though it is certainly a sizable and commendable contribution to Literature, your name is one tiny droplet in a vast pool. Would I even be exaggerating to call it an ocean? I recently read this advice from Penny Sansevieri: “Own the shelf!” With many titles to your name, your name will certainly start to stand out. In fact, given the numbers we’re up against, it’s a wonderful way to get noticed. If you’ve treated your story justly, told it with your own true voice, and revised it into grammatical submission, then your public will want more. And you’re just the writer to give it to them.
You pretty much have the market cornered on You!
with thanks and love to Amanda Collins, who always picks up bits of my discarded confidence, folds it carefully and neatly before stashing it safely in her back pocket to give back to me at just the right time