"More and more I buy into the importance of pursuing one's own unique vision."
Ah, Davin, you are wise. Those are his words from his post on Monday, and yesterday Scott decided to share his own journey with following his unique vision. I appreciated Scott's honest words yesterday, and Davin's honest words on Monday, and I appreciate even more that they have both stuck by their unique visions - even what that meant losing two literary agents for Scott, and facing rejection from publishers for Davin. Ouch.
The truth is, I've never put zombies from space in my books, and I never will. What I mean, of course, by "zombies from space" is changing my work in order for it to become more popular with readers, more accepted by the publishing industry, or more importantly, PUBLISHED. The bare-bones truth is that when you write to your own unique vision, you might be sacrificing a lot of other things along the way.
I'm not sure how interesting my journey is to anyone, but I can briefly share where I've been. It's pretty simple. I started writing when I was a child. I went to college, intent on getting an English degree to better help me write novels for the rest of my life. What happened in college is the most interesting part of all of this, perhaps. About a year in, I got the idea that I wanted to be an editor instead of writer. I think I was intimidated, mostly. A few more years in, I decided to start writing short stories. I was inspired by Annie Dillard's writing, and wrote my short story, "Clover". It was definitely my own unique vision, and straight from my heart. I let two of my professors read it, and before I knew what was happening, they cornered me and asked my why the hell I was pursuing a degree in editing. They said I had to pursue creative writing or I'd be wasting a lot of talent.
So I changed my major, and I've never looked back.
What followed was a journey of figuring out what worked for me as a writer, and what I truly wanted to write. When I figured that out, my life changed, and I've been following that unique vision ever since. When my novel, Monarch, gained literary agent interest, I was so excited. I thought, "This is it!" Little did I know what would happen. I did not have an experience like Scott, but I did get feedback from a certain agent about what should change in the book. Did I change stuff? Yes. To this day, I'm not sure I should have at that point, but I do remember considering very carefully if what this agent wanted to change was in line with my vision for the work. I thought it was, so I revised. In fact, I pretty much rewrote the entire book, even after rewriting it earlier.
Did I get said agent? No, of course not. I probably remained much too close to my own unique vision, because the agent said the book was not what he thought it would be. Oh, well. I then received more agent interest, but it was the same reaction - too off-the-mark. I think all of my work is that way.
I did not let this stop me. I kind of gave up on the publishing industry at that point. I shut down my blog for awhile and wrote Cinders. It was completely 100% what I wanted. I didn't care how people would react to it. I simply did not care. This was freeing. In fact, I wanted so much for the book to be exactly what I wanted that I decided to self-publish it. I didn't care what people thought at that point, either. Something inside of me changed, then, and I'll never be the same. This is when Tinkers, a novella published by a small press, won a Pulitzer. I was floored, honestly. My understanding and vision of what "small press" means, changed completely. That's when I decided a small press might be what I want, and I opened the door to a new possibility.
The rest is history, I guess. I submitted Monarch to Rhemalda Publishing, and when they offered me a contract, I took it because they didn't want to change anything huge on the book. A miracle! I had found a publisher who liked my unique vision. Quite honestly, I got lucky. I could still be searching for an agent or still submitting to publishers, but I got lucky. Luck, however, doesn't happen out of nowhere. I think it was me opening my vision to the possibility of a small press that allowed me to find Rhemalda at the time I did.
We are all on our own paths. Some of us want to put zombies from space in our books - and not just to get published. Some of us really want to write about them. Some of us don't. It's my hope that we can all pursue our own unique vision. Heaven knows Stephanie Meyer followed her own unique vision. Anything can happen, but at the end of the day, I am a much happier person when I haven't compromised my unique vision for something fleeting.
What's your story?