On letting go

books

The moment you buy any of my books and read it, that’s when that book becomes yours. And only yours. And you can take from it anything you want. You can love it, you can hate it, you can love me or hate me, but at that point I no longer care.

I find that’s the only way to actually “survive” as an artist. At least, without wanting to shoot yourself in the head every time someone tells you they hate your work. And it’s the only way to actually get past that paralyzing fear of rejection, that stupid voice inside your head telling you, over and over again, that your book is not good enough yet, that you need to work on it a little bit more… and so you spend so much time editing the same fifty thousand words that they stop feeling yours anymore.

So, yeah, you have to let go.

I write a book, I release it, and then I never read it again, while being perfectly aware that it’s not perfect. But I’m also aware that it’s never going to be perfect, and it’s never going to please everyone.

Some of you might take it the wrong way and think that this means you get to release lousy first drafts, just because you don’t care what others might think about your stories. No. You get to release a novel and don’t cry yourself to sleep every time someone writes a one star review about your book.

The process of writing… you can’t afford to be careless about that. No one gets to be that way.

To be honest with you, it’s best to be a bit arrogant as an artist. To believe you’re doing the world a favor. To let them hate you. Otherwise, every bad review you get, every harsh comment or e-mail, will just make you want to give up.

But until you release that story or painting or whatever, until you get it out there, for the world to love or destroy, it’s your story, and it’s only yours, to do with it as you please.

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17 thoughts on “On letting go

  1. Wow I absolutely love this. As I just signed up for a writing program. I do need to develop a thicker skin when it comes to my passions. Thank you for this awesome blog. You’ve given me guidance with divine timing. 😊

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  2. Not looking at reviews is best but it’s so hard to do. I take it worst when a reader thinks I dislike idea A just because a character dislikes idea A. They can think what they like about a story but it still stings.

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    • We, as writers, are not our characters. Maybe you like idea A, but you just think it’s funny to create a character who feels the exact opposite. Maybe you just want to create a character who is the exact opposite of who you are. This is what truly allows you to know yourself as a person. Writing from the perspective of different people, who feel differently, who act in a different manner, and stuff like that.

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  3. “… and so you spend so much time editing the same fifty thousand words that they stop feeling yours anymore.” Really encouraging. I know you’re just talking about writing, but the whole time I was reading it I was relating it to my life and how I’m always trying to make myself out to be what everybody else wants. I’m constantly trying “edit” myself to please those around me, and in the end I’m not even me anymore. Good thoughts. Thanks for posting.

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  4. Love this! I spend so much time editing anything and everything I write that it suddenly stops feeling like my work, and then I hate it and then I’m miserable. You’re right, it’s best to be a bit arrogant but at the same time not get lazy. I’m gonna let it go now. Thanks for this :)

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  5. Like my daddy used to say, “Once it becomes your thought, it becomes your problem unless you have a solution.” Regardless of your medium, your product is a creative outlet for the passion that builds inside of you, that doesn’t make that product you, just a piece of you. And, just like you can’t eat an elephant whole, they can’t eat you whole, either. Sounds to me that you have found your solution. Keep on letting it go.

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  6. An artist’s biggest critic is him/herself; all a fan/hater can do is criticize or praise—and it’s usually on constructive when it’s yourself or your editor doing the criticism or praise.

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