Once upon a time, I worked for a brilliant, observant woman. When she started with the company, she was their marketing department (there were never more than 30 of us, so a single person could actually be a marketing department). She did her job, she pushed hard to help the company grow, and when the owner took a long-term personal leave of absence, she was named president of the company.
I had nothing but respect for her. She was one of those rare individuals who just *got* people. All sorts of people. She understood them. Knew where they were coming from. Saw the things no one else did. I’ll admit my opinion is biased, because she understood me.
In the office, I’m the person in the background who just listens. Occasionally, I’ll try and put all the pieces together when it seems as though no one else will, but for the most part, I don’t see the world the way everyone else does, so I let them do their thing. That’s not self-deprecation, I view life through a different filter than my colleagues.
This boss of mine recognized that. If she caught me snickering in a meeting, or smirking, or rolling my eyes, she’d call me on it. “[Allyson], what’s so funny?” Wow, that was embarrassing. Except once I explained myself, and the room understood my perspective, it was awesome.
When I started writing seriously (trying to get published), someone close to me told me, “You’ll never be a best seller. Not a list-maker type of best seller. Your world-view isn’t mainstream enough, and it’s reflected in your writing.”
The words hurt, but they also rang true. I’m not claiming I’m a unique little snowflake, but…
In the last 3 1/2 years, I’ve written and published 25 books (novellas and novels). I never have any idea which are going to do well. Those that are nearest and dearest to me, that hit me the hardest and wreck me emotionally, are the ones that don’t sell.
Those where the words flow with so little thought, the one-liners write themselves, and the characters are far wittier than I am, those are my most popular. If I knew how to harness that, I’d bottle it and sell it. Because those are the books I write in a weekend.
And still, in the back of my head, the voice says “You’ll never be a best seller…” and I believe it.
There are so many days (most of them) when I ask myself why I do this. Beyond the obvious answer of “I’m a writer. I have to write or my soul will shrivel and die.”
And then work sucks, and my colleagues ask me to repeat myself for the billionth time, and they still don’t have any clue what I’m saying, and I wonder if today will be the day I snap, and walk out the door without a backwards glance. And another reviewer doesn’t like my books. And another new release flopped.
Then I get home, and a reader contacts me, and tells me they loved my book. They want to read another one. They want to tell their friends. They want to share their opinion, or help me make the next book even better.
I don’t have the kind of massive following where I get regular requests to write [character name]’s books. But just one person asking me “You’ll hook Liz up with a wonderful Poly couple, won’t you?” or “What happens to Tate?” is enough to remind me why I don’t just write the books and then store them on my hard drive.
Because that’s one more person who sees the world through a lens like the one I’m using. Another individual who’s silently laughing at the joke only they understood. Proof that even a special little snowflake, who doesn’t think mainstream enough to write a best seller, isn’t alone in the world.