Sometimes both writers and readers forget that they and their books are not one and the same.I put a lot of myself into the books I write. The characters come out of my head -- the protagonists, antagonists, comic relief, parents good and bad, the passerby on the street who only has one line. But they are not me.
The dialogue comes from my head -- philosophizing, wisecracking, both sides of an argument. But it's not what I would say.
The writing, rewriting, querying, submission, editing, and marketing of a book takes a lot of time, emotion, and thought. There is a lot of my life and myself in my books. I have a creative vision, and it comes out in my books. But they are not me.
So when agent and editors reject my queries and submissions, they are rejecting my book, not me. When readers decide not to buy, librarians and bookstores pass, or reviewers take apart my work, they are judging my book, not me.
It's easy to feel as if the publishing and reading world hates me personally, but sometimes, they are just indifferent to my writing. More likely, they've never even heard of it. But maybe if we met at a cocktail party or the elementary school pick-up line, they'd find me delightful and we'd end up best friends. Or not. I don't know, because all they have is my book.
|Proof that I am not my books: |
We are frequently seen in the same place at the same time.
Overidentification goes two ways.It's not just writers that forget we're not our books. Sometimes readers do as well.
If a character says something awful, it doesn't mean I agree with it. If I write a sexist or racist character, it doesn't mean I'm one too -- even if I write in first person. If a reader thinks a character is passive or whiny or unlikable, that might be my intention, not my personality. Sometimes the point I'm trying to make is the opposite of what characters say. Portraying an action does not mean endorsing it. It's craft, not confession.
So I remind myself -- and other writers and readers -- that we are not our books. And if an editor, agent, reader, or reviewer doesn't like one, it's a reflection of our work product, not ourselves. Even when it feels as if I've pour my heart and mind onto the page, I haven't. The page is not my heart or mind, which are both still encased safely in my body, thank goodness. I need them.
Because I have more life to live, and many other books to write.
(I could also mention that my books are not my babies, but that's another post.)