When writers first start out writing they tend to concentrate on all the wrong things. The big question always seems to be: Do I have talent? This is followed closely by: How do I get an agent? When I was a new writer I also agonized quite a bit over these things. It’s very normal. Whenever a person begins to truly take risks and follow their passion, the first challenges to surface are always questions of self worth and approval from others.
Forming Your Identity as a Writer
Today’s guest post comes from Amazon bestselling author Elaine Calloway. Elaine writes paranormal fantasy and is also a fellow INFJ. I asked Elaine what drew her to writing in her specific genre and what her experiences have been with it in the writing world. Today’s post is a response to my questions.
Why doesn’t my book look like the other popular books in my genre?
I get this question, in various forms, from my clients all the time.
Sometimes it’s an issue of genre-blending. For instance, up until a few years ago most of the sci-fi/western writers out there felt like freaks, because this was a very small genre with a select audience and there was not yet a level of cultural acceptance that came with it. If you were writing sci-fi/western stories in the year 2003 you might have just given up altogether when you got back rejection after rejection from agents who didn’t really understand what you were writing or how it might sell.
Out of all famous people—living or dead, fictional or real—who do you feel most strongly drawn to and why?
One friend immediately piped up. “Ellen Degeneres,” she said. “Because she’s warm and approachable. She makes me feel like it’s okay to be myself.” Then she paused. “And Mick Jagger,” she added. “Because he’s a free spirit. He doesn’t need anyone else’s approval.”
The life we live has everything to do with our identity. Sometimes this is obvious—the person living with a wealthy, educated identity has a very different experience than the person living with a disadvantaged, resource-poor identity. But identity works in ways infinitely more subtle than this. We choose not to strike up a conversation with a stranger because we identify as an introvert. Or we choose the green dress over the blue one because we identify as someone who has green as a favorite color.
Identity is the way we orient ourselves in the world, and overall it’s a very good thing. The problems crop up when we assume that we have a “fixed” identity and we forget to examine our hearts and minds on an ongoing basis to see if that identity needs updating.