I am happy to inform you that your work is exactly what I’m looking for in a literary experience. You painted a picture with your words. You brought figments of your imagination to life, and they became real people to me. You taught me. You made me question. You made me think. You made me care. Most of all, you made me feel something real. Whether it was excitement, joy, anger, sadness, nostalgia, or awe, you cast a spell with your words and opened my heart so that genuine emotion could be born.
I am aware that you get many rejection letters from agents and publishers. They tell you that “you’re not what we’re looking for”, and that’s if they’re inclined to be friendly about it. It’s “just part of the business”, but that doesn’t make it hurt any less. It might be all right, if you had the overwhelming and unshakable support of family and friends, but all too often, your writing goals are diminished by those who love you the most. They may ask you when you’re “going to get a real job.” They may call your career efforts a “hobby.” They may view storytelling as a flight of fancy, and not a profession. A few might even think you are arrogant for believing anyone would want to read your words. Most won’t mean to discourage you, but the fact that they don’t appreciate your writing as a passion and a need is discouragement enough. If you manage to jump those hurdles, then you must face the things that you do to yourself. You think you’re not good enough, not smart enough, not sophisticated enough . . that you don’t have the time, the talent, the special brand of magic that makes a writer great. And finally, all these things come together to make an attempt at crushing your dream.
PLEASE, do not let that happen!
Cherish your dreams! What you do MEANS something, it means a LOT! You are the modern-day Shakespeares and Homers, the ones who will leave behind a record of this life. Your “true accounts” and “fanciful stories” will teach future generations what it was like to be us, 21st-century human beings. You will instruct them on our hopes and dreams, our fears and fascinations, our triumphs and our defeats. HOW can that be anything other than a noble pursuit?!
NO, you did not receive this letter in error. I am talking to YOU, because your voice is unique, your way of seeing the world is a way that no other can mimic. You have things to say, and I am overjoyed to inform you that we are eager for you to say them.
I’m sorry I’m not an agent with an offer of representation, or a big-name publisher with a six-figure contract.
I’m just a reader is all. I’m justthe one who will save money to buy your book, wait in line to get it signed by you, read it, get lost in it, dog-ear the pages, and pester you for more. I’m the one who, four years from now, will tell a friend about a story that inspired me to change my life because I identified so strongly with the main character. That will be your story. I’m the one who may gift my grandchild a copy of that same book, so he can go on to write his own stories. I’m the only other necessary one besides you, who can give life to your work.
It’s not published yet?
Well, that’s fine, because not all of your friends and family will disregard your work. I’m guessing if you’ve been writing long, you shared your love of the craft with someone, or two or three, and it was magnified as they radiated it back to you. Your audience may be smaller, but they are the ones who will carry your story.
Whether you write for one or a million, consider this a letter of acceptance. Please continue writing, and sharing your work with others, since without you, the world would be missing one less treasured storytelling voice, and yours might well be THE one they call “the greatest story of all time.”
PS – And thank you . . . for writing it all down.
One thought on “Dear Writers”
Great post, Jena. Thank you. It’s inspired and motivated me to get off my “intentions” and get to work on writing the historical novel about colonial New England that’s been incubating in my mind for several years now. I enjoy your postings on Goodreads.