The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man. --George Bernard Shaw, 1903
To: The Writer in You
From: The Voice Inside Your Head
December 30, 2010
Re: Shaw Quote (see above)
Write differently this year.
Write differently from your peers, write differently from your mentors. Don't be the same as your critique partners, or your fellow students, or your idols. Make it yours. Make it new, make it real, and make it different.
Where can you find your voice? Is it me, this voice that I am inside your head, or is it YOU? What sets us apart, the me and you-ness of us? Step away from me and find out. How can you produce something that "adapts to the world" and at the same time tries to "adapt the world to yourself"? (Read the Shaw quote above, read it again. That's why I put it there. I even added his picture so you would look at him and think of reading it twice.) You cannot do both, you, who calls yourself a writer. You must choose. Choose to either conform to the world or to change something by being different.
You are not Sue Monk Kidd, or Pat Conroy or Rick Bragg. You are not Barbara Kingsolver. Don't try to be. They have broken their own molds, set their own standards, and written differently in their own right --don't take that away from them by trying to be them. Read them, devour them. But do not emulate them.
You--you there, reading this. Don't write like me. I am just the voice in your own mind reminding you to be who you are, and you are not me. Sometimes, I am a voice for good, and I encourage you, push you, praise you. Yet sometimes? Me, this little drumming sound inside your head? Sometimes I tell you that you are terrible. That you are a failure. Once, I told you that you were too young to make a difference. Now, I tell you that you are too old. Do you believe me both times? Don't give me that much power. Don't.
Stand up for yourself in your words. Don't try to please your mother, or appease your father. Don't avoid pissing off your pastor's wife, your spouse, or your nosy neighbor. Tell the truth. There is no formula for this, for what you are doing. Do it your way. Write differently and be yourself. Be unreasonable, but don't do it for me. Do it for you. You're worth it.
The Voice Inside Your Head
Want to hear more from the writers of What Women Write? Join us at the Richardson, Texas Library on Monday night, January 17, 2011 at 7:00pm. We will be the guest speakers at the Writer's Guild of Texas' monthly meeting. See you there!