Monday, July 16, 2012

When people think you're wasting your time

Yesterday my handsome little man, Connor, turned 2. Which means I have a totally legit excuse to post a picture of him, right?



Thank you all for indulging me! Onto writing stuff...

In the last couple weeks, I've had a decent number of emails from teen writers saying their parents think writing stories or pursuing a career in writing is a waste of time. I've also heard a few saying their parents have way too high of expectations for them, that they anticipate their budding writer to be published quickly and to be making 100k a year.

While I haven't struggled with unsupportive parents, I have battled others' expectations, criticisms, and doubts about my abilities to make it as a writer.

Most parents want what's best for their children. If your parents are discouraging you from writing, they could have a whole list of reasons why. Honestly, there are some days that if one of my kids told me they wanted to be a writer, I would burst into tears. 

If you haven't already, you might want to put some thought into why your parents might be discouraging you from pursuing writing. Have they struggled all their lives to make ends meet? Then it's possible their discouragement is more about wanting you to have a dependable paycheck. Do they read much fiction? If not, maybe they just don't understand your interest in made up worlds.

Figuring out the whys won't make the problems vanish, but it could really help you to better deal with their concerns.

For a lot of parents, money is a big (and rightful) concern about their son or daughter pursuing publicationThe sad reality is you're not going to make much as a writer, especially at first. Coming up with some ideas for a college degree that's more likely to get you a job after graduation might help your parents get on board with writing. 


Regardless of who your parents are, somewhere along the line, someone will think you should be doing something other than writing. Your no-nonsense Uncle who can't wrap his mind around steampunk, your grandmother who thinks you should just get the book spiral-bound at Kinko's and move on to a new hobby, and so on.

Respectfully dealing with people who dislike what you write, who think you should have finished your novel years ago, or who aren't busting out their pom-poms for you is a skill that smart writers master. The publishing world is a mystery to the casual reader and their uneducated expectations can be beyond frustrating.

This is why writing friends are invaluable, and why you should actively seek them out at places like writers conferences or in the Go Teen Writers Facebook group.



Ultimately your choice to pursue writing is just that - your choice. Guardians might choose to not pay for a creative writing degree or friends might balk at your dreams of publication. You might never find the magical words to convince them, but if you continue to be respectful to the naysayers in your life, yet steadfast in your writing pursuits, you may find they become cheerleaders before too long.

24 comments:

  1. Thank you. <3

    My mom doesnt read much fiction, and she pretty much hates Fantasy (though she's never read any of it). And that comes in trouble because most of what I WRITE is Fantasy. I haven't even told her what genre I write, because each time I try to start talking about Fantasy, I get a whole list of its Bad nature. I am a very timid soul at times, and when it comes to facing my Mom with things I think differently, I tend to just pretend they aren't there. I feel Fantasy is fine. Ive givenit a lot of thought, and prayer, and I don't think anything is wrong with Harry Potter, Eragon, etcetc.

    But, I think I need to stop being timid and just open up and let her know. And then, stand my ground.

    Thankfully, my Dad doesn't care either way. He doesn't read much fiction, but he likes the idea of it. And had he been given the opportunity as a kid, I think he could've made a really good author.

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    1. I recently had a disgussion with my parents about fantasy, because they were wondering if what I was reading was evil. I love the Eragon books, and I was currently reading the Green Rider series, (I had to quit that one because of the sexual content) but I dont think there is anything wrong with reading fantasy as long as it's not making you want to go try out the real witchcraft etc.

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  2. Ashley, in case you'd like to have some information to back up your love of fantasy, or at least Harry Potter, there is an awesome book called "Looking for God in Harry Potter" by John Granger. Even if it doesn't help your mom see, maybe it will help give you some confirmation :).

    Also, even adults have to deal with family members, even husbands or wives, who don't understand. It is something we all have to learn to handle. And writing fantasy as a Christian means dealing with readers who think fantasy is unChristian as well. I'm glad you have your dad to help support your writing! And you have a whole community of us Christian fantasy writers and readers out here, too :).

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    1. I agree! Write what you write! I grew up with a strong love of HP and couldn't get the haters!
      I know that my books will probably have haters, too, but who cares? I've noticed that books like HP and Eragon only get picked on because they're popular. I've read fantasies that aren't as popular, and no one complains about THEM. The well-liked ones are just scapegoats. Most people who whine about them haven't even read them.

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    2. Exactly Allison/Ashley. You both said it all. I'm a shameless Harry Potter fan. I never picked on it, I just thought it was over hyped (Like Twilight, which I read and hated so I didn't even give HP a second look). I was wrong. Harry Potter rules. Favorite book series ever.

      I don't care if people hate my epic fantasy book. In fact, most of my friends like historical fiction/romance. Not fantasy. They can hate away though. It won't change the fact that I love my world, my characters, and the story behind it all. Most days that is....

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  3. Thanks!
    My mom cant stand fantasy, even though I dont know that she's ever read any, but I like to write it. She's supportive of my writing, she just isn't a fan of it;)
    Both my parents are kind of concerned with the fact that the only thing on my list of what I want to be when I grow up is Rancher, Writer, and Rock Star.:)

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  4. I'm blessed to have supportive parents and family. They're always there to encourage me to get past my writer's block, to keep trying with a part I'm struggling with, to keep writing. But that doesn't mean I don't run through these questions and concerns in my head. I have an illness that seems to make my writing life a constant roller coaster ride of goes and stops. Talk about whiplash!

    But all in all, I've realize something. I can't stop writing or telling stories. It's a part of me. It's one of the only things that when I'm doing it, I don't feel like I should be doing something else. It's a gift and a love I know God has planted.

    Perhaps I'm not meant to become a full-time novelist. Perhaps I'll use my gift some other way. Because if he gave a gift, there's got to be a reason. He'll show us what that reason is when we're ready.

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  5. Thank you for posting this! I know why my mom doesn't want me to write but I have no idea how to make her understand I can't stop this, no matter what.

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  6. Happy Birthday to your little guy! He's so cute, i love the touch of curls he has. It makes his hair look tousled and adorable.

    I have so much to say about this, I thinkits great and very wise. I started learning a few years ago when I talk to my mom I'm better off having a list of my reasoning (and even possible pitfalls)than going and say "oh,um, bc I want to" she's certificates practical and logical and doing things correctly is important to her. We had a conversation a few weeks ago that could've been hurtful and seen as unsupportive but after thinking about it she was telling me the truth. When I wanted to immediately say she didn't support my writing she was simply telling me like it is- there's nothing wrong with me dreaming of being a writer but there are things that need to be taken into account & things that HAVE to be done and worked through before writing, sometimes I wonder why real life has to interfere in my dream world??

    I struggle a lot with a friend who doesn't see writing as worthwhile or that I must not be good enough at it or working hard enough since I'm not published yet. She doesn't understand the reality of publishing. A lot of times I wish I never told her I wanted to be a writer because she not only has harsh word but they're so colorful they sting even more, then I wonder if God isnreally preparing me through her meanness? I know I don't write what she would want to read but you can't please everyone, can you?some people will never be the type to be open to differences and we just have to pick ourselves up and move on.

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    1. Lol, autocorrect *very practical and logical. NOT certificates practical. Lol!

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  7. Oh yeah, I also have a couple questions :)
    1. I've beennworking real hard to accept that first drafts and first books and supposed to be bad. I just got through my first read through totally expecting a melt down BUT I actually thinks some parts are good and may have promise. Am I delusional??

    2. In between rewrites, like the second and the third do you do 6 weeks of rest too?

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    1. 1. Not crazy at all! I usually find some gems in mine as well. It's always a nice surprise :)

      2. I don't do six weeks. I might do a week off or I might not.

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    2. Tonya, I have rewritten my WIP EIGHT times, it's almost done, and I STILL have things from the first draft that I love more than the things I added later. :) And even if the scene sounds awkward at first, you can still keep it, just rewrite it. Isn't it nice we can do that? ^_^

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  8. This was an interesting post. I can't say that I've had either problem though. My family has all been incredibly supportive and always wants to read what I write. But none of them have been pushing me to be published, or expect me to be rolling in dough either.

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  9. I am home-schooled, so my parents are more supportive of me writing than others' tend to be. Also, I have two older sisters whom I am following the footsteps of. Until now I kinda took those things for granted.
    Even though everyone I know is supportive of my writing, there are very few (other than fore-mentioned sisters) who 'get' it. They give me advice and encouragement as readers, but not as writers. This is one of those times where I wish I had a Facebook lol...

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  11. I'm lucky to have a supportive family too! My parents help me in any way they can and I have an amazing little sister who edits my work (and tells me when it sucks and when it's worth keeping. Honesty. Love it).
    I love it how you stressed "respectfully" in you post. It's so true! Even if no one else thinks what you love to do is worthwhile, always be respectful when you disagree. Valuable advice there.

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  12. My family supports my writing, but neither of my parents have actually read my book. It feels too personal to let them get hold of it. When I write, it's like I'm pouring out my soul into the books. It creates a new me that I never knew I had before. But whenever someone reads it, I feel like they're reading me. You see, the embarrasing truth is, I don't write because I want people to read my book or to make money or gain fame or anything. I write for me, and for my story. I've brought my characters to life: they're in my head, influencing me. I write because I want to give them their happy ending, MY happy ending. And when someone else who has no idea what I have in store for my characters picks up my book and starts reading it, I feel like I want to yank the book from their hands, scream "THAT'S MINE! DON'T TOUCH IT!" and lock it up in my closet, keeping my own world secret, and away from prying eyes. Is that selfish? I mean, I feel proud and everything when people say they like my book, but . . . . I don't know. Is that crazy? Please, does anybody else relate to this? Because it would be great to know that I'm not alone.

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    1. Yeah, I totally, totally agree. Unfortunately, I once mentioned to my dad that I had a writing profile on a certain website, so he looked it up and bookmarked it, and told all of the extended family about it. Now they all come up to me and talk about my stories/poems/ etc. and I just feel like that's too personal. I know I put it out there publicly for everyone to read, but they know me and so they probably are just happy because I put my name on something, know what I mean? Yeah, I have showed nobody my MS, and I'm planning on not editing it. I just feel like having my family follow and read my writing is a litttle too close for comfort. Like, it's somewhat diverse, and not all of my family shares the same opinions that I do, and they wouldn't know what to do if they didn't like it (and neither would I). You're not the only one.

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  13. My parents don't reallyhve a problem with me writing. If I tell them that I am going to write tonight, they would be today fine with that. I don't really show them my writings, though. I d t have to deal with this problem, but I know that many other people do. Thanks for posting! Oh! Happy birthday Connor!!!!!!!!! :)

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  14. Oh, God! Connor is too cute! Happy Birthday! Thanks for this post. I've been hoping for this post to pop up. My parents don't mind me writing and they are usually quite proud of my results yet as I want to focus completely on writing, they always get annoyed at me and tell me that school is more important. This personally bugs me because I DO focus on school. I can tell that they don't want to discourage me but at the same time I know that they think that it's just a silly, little habit that I'll soon grow out of. Thanks for the great tips, Stephanie!

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  15. I've never had a problem with my parents, they've always been 100% supportive in whatever we kids want to do. But it helpful to remember that I won't please anyone, and there are going to be people in my life who aren't going to think I should write. But being a published writer has been a dream of mine forever, and despite what people say, I have to persevere and keep moving forward.

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  16. Thank you for this, Stephanie.

    My own worst critic is definitely myself. My parents support my writing and I'm so thankful for that. My mom tells people I'm a writer and my dad (whenever he gets his hands on something) gushes over it. *glows* I'm blessed. :D

    Happy Birthday to your little man! That picture is way too stinkin' cute!

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    1. Aww sounds like you have a proud papa ^_^ lol. That just warms my heart to see your parents being so supportive.
      I feel I'm blessed to to have parents who want me to do whatever I feel is best for myself. :)

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