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Rhonda Herrington Bulmer
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October 9th, 2013
Chasing after
by Rhonda Herrington Bulmer

Recently a Facebook friend posted a link to a story filled with advice from current writers about succeeding in the writing life. Like many “emerging” writers (if I dare call myself that), I am interested in what established artists have to say about their work and what it takes to birth it.

Out of 30 quotes, there was the typical “never give up” and “read a lot” advice in several places. There was other practical advice about the importance of detail and how to create timeless characters. I liked the generous heart of Jody Lynn Nye, who said, “your voice is uniquely yours and everybody’s waiting to hear it.”

quotesBut most of all, I’m mulling over one quote from science fiction and fantasy author David Drake. “The world is not obligated to care,” he said.
The world is not obligated to care.

It sounds like a dire warning. And I think in a way, it is. Yet I find it strangely comforting. It makes me re-evaluate why I write and thus how I continue to press on. It makes me ask myself, am I writing for the sole purpose of acceptance, or am I writing for my own reasons?

I think it’s time to start writing for my own reasons. The fact is what’s important to me is not necessarily important to everybody else. That’s just the way it is. Maybe it bores editors. Maybe they just don’t care enough about the subject to give it a second thought and hence they don’t think their readers would care, either. Maybe my potential audience is tiny.

It’s not just about publication, though. Lots of things get printed that I think are boring. A subject that doesn’t interest me, perhaps, or it was written in a way that I dislike. Think about that for a minute: a writer spent all her energy and love creating something for which I care nothing.

My oldest daughter is studying digital film technology and I have also begun trying my hand at screenwriting for television, so there’s been a great focus on media in our house of late. It causes me to cringe every time I think about the movies I’ve said were terrible. Somebody—hundreds of people, probably—poured their heart and soul into a product that I said was terrible, a waste of money and time.

I wasn’t obligated to care.

So why is this adage so comforting to me? It’s pasted above my computer, so that I can remind myself every day—why?

Perhaps I hope it will help me remain objective. I have spent far too many years caring what other people think, which is a tricky thing for artists. Our work must first spring from our own passion, but in order that it might be bought and sold, other people have to be passionate about it too. And I think there’s a bitter irony at play: the more your work is accepted, the more freedom you have to write what you want.

In the end, I have to be satisfied with presenting the truth as I see it, even when it is not accepted by others. Or worse, be okay if people say my work was a terrible waste of money and time…or worst of all, they didn’t care about it enough to notice.

They’re not obligated, after all.

2 Responses to “Chasing after”

  1. Marlene says:

    You are not an emerging writer – you arrived years ago. And you should pick up a copy of the book ‘What You Think of Me Is None of My Business.’ That should solve your dilemma in rethinking of exactly who’s approval are you seeking, which should be no one but your own:-)
    And I love your writing/musings and how your brain works!

  2. Neil says:

    I’m a submerging writer, too.
    Enjoyed the post.

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