First, hop on over to Matt's blog. If you are a nerd, you will appreciate that little gem of genius there. Made my day. Now I'm picturing Han Solo with a British accent. Mmm...wait, what was I doing? Blogging, right.
I'm gonna let you guys in on a little secret. It might be shocking, so brace yourselves:
Not everyone likes me.
I know. How in the world is that possible? I'm the most likable person in the world! Everyone in the Universe should love me! ...Or maybe I actually come off rather aloof in person. And sometimes people read that as me thinking I'm superior, when it's really a wall built to hide how fragile and insecure I am...
Something like that.
This used to really bother me, this whole idea that there are people in the world who don't like me. Oh who am I kidding? Sometimes it STILL bothers me.
I think it's safe to say that most people want to be liked, and sometimes we give up part of ourselves to get it. I don't know how this whole being-someone-else-to-be-liked goes in boy land, but I can tell you it's nearly a disease in girls. Even women. My oh my, I've seen it so many times. In my friends, my family, myself. We try to mold ourselves into what other people expect us to be, and sometimes it feels like we have to cut off limbs just to fit our square selves into that round hole.
To some extent, we all live dual lives, the inside never quite matching up to what people see on the outside. As if being ourselves is something completely unacceptable.
I'm not sure where this way of thinking came from. Maybe it's been ingrained in us so long no one really knows. But I've always hated it, and perhaps that's why I've met with my fair share of bullies. I've never been able to give up much of myself, never been able to pretend I'm someone else for very long. I've tried, and it always leaves me feeling like crap. Like I'm being stifled. Not a fan.
So not everyone likes me, but those who do I am happy to say like me. Not a mask. That's rewarding in its own way. I dare say it's nicer to have the real affection of few than to have the false affection of many.
I've said this before—several times, even—but I'm constantly in need of my own personal pep talks. You gotta Rock What You Got. You have to be YOU. There's no one else who can do it better.
In the writing world, as in any creative field, a lot of comparing gets thrown around. It's hard not to do, but I can tell you it's a waste of time. I've been there, and it just makes you feel ugly and worthless and sad.
And you shouldn't, because there is only one person in the world who can write what you do. Please don't make me tell you who, because I think it's pretty obvious by now.
Sometimes I tease Kiersten—especially after I finish one of her amazing books like I did today (I know, I'm totally rubbing that in)—that I wish I could be her so I'd know everything she knows about her worlds. She inevitably says something sappy like, "But then I wouldn't get to read your books! I love your books."
I roll my eyes, but the truth of that is deep and pure and keeps me going more than I can say. I may never be an award winner or a bestseller or whatever, but my unique voice resonates with some people. That, friends, is the most rewarding part of writing. And it doesn't take a book deal or an agent or anything to get. It just takes the right person connecting with your work and sharing a moment that transcends the words on the page. When writer and reader create meaning together.
I live for that, and I know it can only come through being myself on the page. Yeah, some people may not like it. Fine. But I have to write for me and the people who do connect with my words. Carving myself to fit in a different hole would make me incredibly unhappy.
So, be yourself. You've heard it a thousand times, but I think we all need reminding now and then.