The question of the balance between writing what you want and reaching people has been rocketing around in my brain for many days.
I’ve recently heard some people say that writers have to listen to the authorities who say you have to write what people want, or you won’t be successful. Others say do what moves you but don’t expect success. Others say find the middle road.
I’m not sure I can wholeheartedly say any of the above works for me!
As to the first, well, I still don’t buy it. I believe that when people are playing “dictator dictator” the things they say tell you more about them and their narrow beliefs and concepts than about any ultimate truth about how to achieve success. Because success isn’t a mathematical equation, and no person’s achievements can be squeezed into a formula. When a person says to me “you can’t be successful unless you follow my rules” they are playing God. It’s what bullies and control freaks do – to compensate for low self-esteem, usually!
I think we don’t realize often enough that we listen to anybody who speaks with authority, and we believe them, even when what they’re saying is utterly counter- intuitive. Why don’t we want to think for ourselves?
It takes two to tango. Granted the bullies are a problem, but they’re only half the equation, alas. The other half is our reluctance to go with our heart and gut, to risk stepping out of line. To let ourselves be the authority. To decide on our own how we’re going to go about our success. To know that it’s okay, we’ll be safe, life will support us. People will support us.
It’s hard to take the risk, don’t I know it, hard to believe I’ll be supported when I can’t see any evidence of it in my life. I’m not always able to do it with ease and confidence, but in the end what other choice do I have? To live my life according to somebody else’s rules – but then it isn’t my life is it? It’s an offshoot of somebody else’s. No matter what “success” results from that I can’t see that it brings any ultimate, sustainable and really meaningful reward.
It’s my life, my very own precious life. I can’t bear to give it away – especially not to a bully!
As far as authorities go, the people who have experienced success that’s meaningful to them are the ones who don’t criticize, don’t judge, don’t tell you what to do. Because they understand the value of autonomy, independence of mind, soul and heart. They’re usually pretty humble.
They remained true to themselves, and they can’t have accepted that doing so prohibited them from achieving! As to the middle road, maybe some took it and maybe some didn’t.
I don’t think there’s a formula. I think it’s possible that what you believe has a lot to do with whether you’re ever successful or not.
A lot. And I don’t think it’s got much to do with pleasing people, either. I think it’s got a lot to do with putting yourself out there so people know about you. How can they choose you or like you if they’ve never heard of you?
I’ve spent a lot of hours in my life torturing myself with believing I wasn’t talented enough or clever enough. Maybe it’s not that complicated. Maybe I just haven’t been noisy enough!