If you’re a writer and/or a reader, you may have heard some furious rumblings about a dastardly disturbance the Writer-Force lately. It involved a supposedly well-known (I say supposedly because I never heard of her until she up-ended the proverbial apple cart) romance author who dared to pass off other writers’ works as her own. Not only did she manage to tangle with some seriously heavy-hitters in our industry (Courtney Milan, Nora Roberts, Tessa Dare, Kerrelyn Sparks, Kresley Cole, and oh so, so many more) but she set her ghost-writers up as scapegoats for the eventual fall. I won’t get into it all, but if you’re interested in reading about it, check out these two articles which just scratch the surface of the whole debacle:
As much as I take on a-live-and-let-live approach when it comes to writing, when situations like this bubble to the surface, it’s hard not to comment hence this post. The writing industry, like any business, has its good and bad apples. I respect both Courtney Milan and Nora Roberts, not only for their unflinching strength in standing up for themselves, but their willingness to shed light on such behavior. Nora’s response to this episode resonated with me because I’m a firm believer in being your own best defender. It’s not easy, but it is necessary, now more than ever.
In every industry there is an ugly, dark side, and that it true of ours. It’s not pretty and most of us choose not to swim in such dark waters, but unfortunately when others do it taints the entire group. Not cool, not cool at all.
With the rise of being able to publish your own work, it also created an opening for less legitimate opportunists to take advantage, something they’ll continue to do no matter what because that is what greed and selfishness create. Here’s what I want to share with incoming writers, and those of us who’ve been head’s down, fingers blurring, to create our own stories–stay true to you.
Yes, it’s important to get your stories out there in front of readers, but don’t give in to the pressure to write faster than what you and your story need. Remember you came into this industry because you had a story you felt others would relate to, don’t lose sight of that.
Write your own stories, hone your own style, utilize the writing, publication, marketing schedule that works for you. Don’t bow under the loud cries of “Faster, faster, faster, more, more, more!”
You’re creating art, not some mass-produced, easily rendered product. You are creating a unique piece of craftsmanship, which takes time and passion. You pour your heart and soul into that creation, so make sure you protect it just as fiercely. Stand up for yourself and your work. Hold your head up high, it’s yours, own it. Take a page from Courtney and Nora and don’t let anyone undermine the work you’ve done.
We’ve all heard the often repeated, “Writing is hard,” mantra, but do you really understand how hard it is? It’s hours spent on ensuring your butt is in a chair and you are getting words on screen/paper, it’s trying to figure out how to marketing yourself ethically, it’s months of prepping your written gift for distribution, and it’s constantly keeping yourself updated about what works and what doesn’t. Sometimes you take the wrong turn and have to trudge back, but every decision you make it a learning opportunity, it’s the only way you grow and mature into the writer you want to be. It’s opening yourself by offering up these stories that are close to your heart, knowing there’s a very good chance you’re going to get hurt, but you do it anyway because there is that one reader out there who will pick it up and hold it close because your gift means the world to them.
It’s not easy trying to juggle your personal life, your career (be it writing or otherwise), and your writing. It takes years of hard work and dedication before it ever begins to pay off. There is no magic route to instant success, because there is no instant success. Every now and then, you’ll catch the fleeting flash of notoriety that burns bright and stunning before disappearing, but the strong flame of the true writer burn for those who’ve spent years honing their craft and continue to write and produce despite the trends whipping through the industry world.
So whether you’re new to this or an old hand at the whole writing schtick remember your artistic vision doesn’t happen with a copy-paste option or wasting your time chasing the latest trend, it happens when you’re true to yourself and your voice.