August 31, 2012 in The D-Evolution
As far back as I can remember I’ve always been one of those “I don’t care what you think about me” types. I did what I thought was cool and if folks didn’t like it, that was just too damn bad. Well, all that changed when I published Death Drop. Suddenly, I was reading critiques about my book from complete strangers, and I found myself on this weird emotional roller coaster that, as far as I was concerned, was not my style. Compliments about great action and well-developed characters had me grinning like a crazy person (and turning my wife into one of those bobble head dolls from continuous head shaking) one day, and quips about heavy-handed description had me slumping on the couch, eating buckets of chocolate ice cream and watching Lord of The Rings for the 600th time the next.
Why this sudden sensitivity to what others think? Because over the course of writing the book I became attached to the characters and their struggles. I’m not a parent, but I can imagine that publishing your first book and then hearing that it sucked is like sending your child off to school for the first time and then receiving a call from the principal saying that little Jonny is the spawn of satan and should never be allowed around other children. After a couple of consecutive low-rated reviews, instead of heading for Middle Earth via my remote, I Googled some of my favorite authors to see if I could glean some wisdom. It was kismet that led me to this little gem from one of the authors that I look up to most in the speculative fiction world.
“The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it’s definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it honestly, and tell it the best you can. I’m not sure there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.” —Neil Gaiman
I love this. It appeals to my rebellious side, while providing comfort against poor opinions of my work (which I know is bound to happen, but I don’t think I’ll ever reach a point where it doesn’t bother me at all). I found myself asking, “Did you write your story honestly, and did you tell it the best you could at the time you wrote it?” And my answers were and always will be a resounding “YES!” This quote now resides in the little notebook I carry with me for writing down any authorial epiphanies that come to mind, and I’m sure I’ll be referring to it many times over the years to come, not just for writing but for everything I endeavor to accomplish. I don’t think you can really go wrong with doing everything honestly and the best you can. It’s simple advice, and I find that more often than not, that’s the best kind. Thanks, Mr. Gaiman!