Thursday, March 31, 2011

Writer-Blogger Thursdays: Why I Will Never Make Fun Of Nicholas Sparks Again

I've made up my mind to never make fun of a commercially successful author for as long as I live.  Barring the exception of their showing up at my house in a Barney costume and yodeling, I'm not gonna do it.  Even if their writing sucks.  Even if it really sucks.

Why?  Because they've earned their success.  They really have.

I used to think that all mainstream audiences were manipulated by a Jabba the Hut-like mastermind who paid  talentless hacks ghastly sums of money to churn out fodder for the masses, inoculating them against the works of gifted writers trying to make their way in the world.  I believed that only way to be successful was to write about sparkly vampires in high school and their angsty girlfriends.  Or be Stephen King.

Then I took a peek at Nicholas Sparks' website.  In case you haven't heard of him, many people with good taste  in books accuse him of writing the same book over and over.  I loved to use his name as a punchline for every joke I made about bad writers.

Until two days ago.

I looked at his Writing Advice section and found what he had to say made a lot of sense.  His writing advice didn't differ that much from the advice of other writers whose works I enjoy.  (Read a lot, write a lot, learn the industry, be professional, etc., etc.)  And you know what?  He's found what works for him and he sticks with it.  He's got an audience who loves his books.

But, as I learned from reading about his personal journey, he worked very hard.

The question of his talent, while debated in some literary circles, is negligible at this point. He worked his butt off, paid his dues, and now he's enjoying the rewards.  I can't begrudge him his success.

I've been worrying if I am inherently good enough to pull off being a writer.  There are voices in my head screaming that what I'm writing is garbage, because I compare myself to others.  This past weekend I was tempted to curl up in a ball and give up on my work in progress.  Especially after such a tiring weekend at the spa.

But I didn't give up.  Instead, I pounded out 2,500 words.  Because I am a writer, and this is what I do.  Writing is a calling, but it's also a job.  I get to do it, no matter if I think I'm good enough or not.  There are plenty of immensely talented artists out there, and they miss out on opportunities to be more successful because they're hanging around complaining about how the movie/writing/art industry is corrupted beyond salvation.  While they're moaning that no one will appreciate their work, another artist who may not be as good will land a multimillion dollar after toiling in obscurity for years.

Don't be the whining artist.  The world needs your creation, not your complaining.

And don't stop making art, no matter how bad you think it is.

If you are true to yourself, and write that book sitting inside you, and revise like a super ninja on steroids, then the universe will break itself open for you one day, because fortune favors the hardworking and the fearless.

Also, you can't give up, no matter how many people slam doors in your face.  Just in case you were wondering if I forgot about to mention that part.  I didn't.

Happy Thursday!

P. S.  A-Z challenge starts tomorrow!  Who's excited?


  1. This is a great post and so true to keep writing and that it is hard work. :)

    I'm excited about the A-Z challenge too. :D

  2. Thanks, Cherie! I think the challenge is going to be great!

  3. Mmm...I think you still have a license to make fun of things if you do it equally across the board. Singling out someone is no fun though. I make this statement because we all work very hard for the things that we do in our life and I truly believe that all persons are created equal (even though I'm sure royalty somewhere disagrees with me). So yeah, equal treatment for all. If you're going to pick on an author...fine by me...just pick on all of them equally.

  4. Michael,
    I agree with you on all people being equal, and making fun of things in equal proportions. It's important to laugh at ourselves, too, because life is too short to be taken seriously. Making fun of someone who has worked hard and been successful just because you don't like the way he or she strings words together isn't okay, and it has nothing to do with my writing. That's all I meant.

  5. Who's excited? I'm excited! 850+ participants and still growing.

  6. Alex,

    Holy Cow! That's so cool. Actually the challenge started 34 minutes ago my time. I'm 12 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time, USA.

    I am stoked for epicness.

  7. Great post, Marjorie! Hey, I've got a blog award for you over on my page and some linky love! Enjoy!

  8. I'm new here. *waves* Nice to 'meet' you.

    It's a hard (and small) business, writing/publishing, thus I try to keep my bad opinions about specific books/authors to myself.


  9. I learned that lesson, too. Sparks earned his right to write whatever he feels like (I am a closet Notebook fan). And there's no arguing his HUGE fan base.

  10. I guess creative complaining is just trying to have my cake and eat it. But there was a great article floating around twitter earlier this week that quoted an author who gave bad advice but said you may write better than me but I work harder at it.

    Guilt-ed me into stopping a four hour veg sessions in front of the tv waiting to feel like writing.

  11. Enlightening & comforting post :) :) It's easy to wallow in writers''s best not to compare yourself to others, and to persevere with writing. Thanks for this advice.

  12. If you want to find out more about Nicholas Sparks, you should read his memoir, Three Weeks with my Brother. It's an amazing book about their childhood. Many times you'll wonder why they didn't die from some of their shenanigans. You'll come out of it with an awful lot of respect for him as someone who has really, really paid his dues and deserves the success he has.

  13. It's so easy to get caught up in doubt when you're writing. It's not something that shows concrete success unless/until you get published and everyone buys your book. It's hard, but it's worth it. Good luck to you on your writing, as well as on the A to Z Challenge!