I was taking a break from writing last night, and posted a link on twitter to The Black Hours, a medieval manuscript that is in my current novel-in-progress. Someone responded that the manuscript seemed like a very Kat sort of a thing, that what I was writing sounded like a very Kat sort of a book. Concerned that the character-restrictions of twitter would make what was absolute sincerity on my part seem like snark, I agreed, and then said that I didn't really see the point of writing something if it wasn't a very me sort of a thing to write.
The timing was interesting, or perhaps serendipitous, as I had just read this post from Nova Ren Suma, talking about how 2012 was going to be a year where she wrote solely for herself, and made no apologies for doing so - to be the writer who she is, rather than the writer that anyone else thinks she ought to be.
It's a powerful statement, and one that echoes a lot of the New Year's goals that I've read in the past couple of days. I think there are a lot of us who want to write our stories, and more, to not feel as if we ought to apologize for doing so.
Writing is hard, and it doesn't come with promises. One sale is not a guarantee of the next. No one owes it to us to like our stories, our books, or even to read them. We hear all the time what readers or editors do or don't want (sometimes these things are the same, just to make the craziness complete). We hear more specifically what people do or don't like about our work. (Trust me, even if you try to avoid reviews, people will send them to you. Even the critical ones. Especially the critical ones.) Well-meaning people will suggest what they feel are easier kinds of books to write, guaranteed best-sellers, the one change you should have made to that last thing you published that would have made it perfect. Well-meaning people will tell you these things until you want to curl up in an ink-stained puddle and cry into your manuscript.
But there are no promises. There are no guarantees, no magic words or perfect plots. And writing is hard. Writing is hard, and sometimes the only thing you can do is write your own story. Even if all you've heard is that "King Arthur, Sparkly Zombie" is the most overdone concept in the history of literature. Even if it's in Anglo-Saxon alliterative prose, and everyone has told you you'd be a runaway success if you only wrote accessible stories. Even if it's in first person pov, and your lead is a woman, and everyone knows those don't sell. Writing is hard, and what is the point of doing it, if not to tell your story?
Write your own story. And apologize to no one for doing so.