On Being True to Self–A Writer’s Voice

Photo: Victoria Ceretto-Slotto 2/10

My agent has forwarded me two letters of rejection from publishers–both of them complimentary. They mentioned “smooth writing,” “strong voice” etc. The reasons for both rejections stated something to the effect that there was overwhelming sadness in the story in spite of the hopeful ending.

My initial reaction was, “Well, I’ll do a rewrite and throw in some humor.” My close friend and writing buddy cautioned me against this and told me that it was probably more about not being a good match to the publisher’s list. This gave me reason to ponder–am I so anxious to be published that I will compromise the story I have to tell? I thought about literary fiction that I’ve read and appreciated dealing with painful subjects and reminded myself that my own life of working with death and dying predisposes me to deal with topics of loss, redemption, survival and hope.

The reason I’m indulging myself in this post is that it brings to mind the importance of being true to one’s inspiration and unique voice as a writer. We each have a sacred song to sing and I believe we are called to deliver our message to the best of our ability. My message in “Winter is Past” is that life is precious, live it fully and believe that the heart has room for love.

That being said, while being open to suggestions of an editor and willing to rewrite until I have calluses on my fingertips, I never want to be untrue to the song I have to sing.

Susan Boyle and her Dream

Our dogs got us Susan Boyle’s CD for Christmas. We stayed up and listened to it and I followed the lyrics along with Susan’s comments, written on the insert. It struck me how her accomplishment propelled her from depression and a sense of failure into a place of serenity and gratitude.

Then I thought about the rest of us. My guess is that many of us grapple with self esteem issues and dark remembrances of our past, difficult moments in childhood. Perhaps we were the victims of ridicule, bullying or outright abuse. But most of us will not know the type of achievement that Susan has attained.

It strikes me that we need to find strength and love within ourselves–the knowledge that we are loved–knowing that forgiveness is there for us and invites us to offer the same gift to ourselves.

I would love to see my novel in print, to know some measure of success. But I pray that, no matter what, I will be content to be who I am, to love myself and to accept the love that God and my support system offer me.

Susan, blessings to you as you continue to live your dream. I love you for who you are and am grateful for your gift to us.