I am a slow reader. Even with a great book, it usually takes me about a week to get through it. It’s not that I don’t like to read. In fact, it’s one of my Top Ten Favorite Thing to Do in Life (it’s right between playing video games with Han Solo [my husband] and doing girly crafty things). However, I’ve got a lot on my plate between running a house, taking care of my munchkins, working out so I don’t “let myself go” (where will I go, I wonder??), writing, running my business, being *shudders* social . . .
I don’t have a lot of time to sit and read. Granted, I make other things a
priority, but still. Reading is sometimes rather low on The List.
But every once in a while, I come across a book that is so good, so
beautifully written, SO FRIGGING EPIC that I simply cannot put it down. I
devour it. I have recently come across one such book.
I have been affected by this book in so many ways, I can’t even begin to
organize them within my head, let alone discuss them here. But suffice it to
say, that it’s one of Those Books. You know, the ones that change you and the
way you think about things.
Yes, I’ll relieve your suspense now. The book is The Fault in Our Stars by the genius John Green.
Like I said, I just finished it last night (along with an entire box of
tissues) so I haven’t properly digested all of the many thought-provoking
layers of this novel. But I did want to discuss one little part. It’s this epic
line which is repeated a lot in the novel, and which I continue to repeat to
myself almost hourly.
“The world is not a wish-granting factory.”
This is so epic. So simple. Yet, it’s exactly what I needed to hear. I’ve been
struggling for a long time with my writing. After Blood on the Moon came out, I’ve been tossed around on a roller
coaster that DOES NOT, John Green, only go up. It goes down and around, and
upside down – in fact, it’s one of those horrid old wooden roller coasters that
jerks you around and makes your neck hurt for three days afterward.
I’ve been all over the Internet, searching through other writers’ blogs,
their forums, twitter feeds, Facebook pages, whatever, looking for some clue to
HOW THEY DO IT. How do they handle the negative reviews and the Mean People,
and the ridiculously difficult challenge of ignoring it all and carrying on? I’ve
pondered deeply the thought that maybe I’m not cut out for it. Maybe writing
isn’t for me.
But whenever I do, I get this awful sinking feeling right in the middle of
my body, and I can’t help but repeatedly think the word: failure.
I HATE to fail at something. I hate being beaten, conquered, trumped, pwned –
all that stuff. If I make something a goal, and I can’t achieve it, it bugs the
living crap out of me. (Which is why I always make it my goal to LOSE at board
games so I don’t freak out when it happens). And this – making it as an author –
is the biggest, most ambitious goal I’ve ever set for myself. (Besides
parenthood, but that’s another story).
So as I read and re-read these authors’ words, I started seeing a connective
thread. Something ALL of them said in one way or another. I heard their advice,
and I knew it was what I needed to do, but somehow, it just wouldn’t sink in.
The Fault in Our Stars.
Sometimes I wonder about fate and destiny and whether the world is all
coincidence or fated. Usually, I don’t care enough either way to really ponder
it thoroughly. But right now, I’m forced to make a decision. Because reading
this book right now, right when I needed it most, cannot have been mere
coincidence. There HAS to be some force Out There that set this up for me. It
took me to the bookstore (which I haven’t entered in over six months) with my
book-obsessed sister-in-law, who recommended that I read John Green’s book. I’ve
been so low about writing lately, that, had this happened even a week earlier,
I wouldn’t have picked the book up. But something inside me told me I was
ready. I had to read this book, or my writing career would be over before it
even began. (I know it sounds nuts, but that’s what I was thinking). So I
started reading, and I started understanding that this book was given to me for
a reason. And it all came together with that line, “The world is not a
It connected everything I’d been feeling, everything I’d been reading about
in those authors’ blogs and suddenly, gracefully, everything became clear.
The reason I’ve been struggling so hard is NOT because of bad reviews. It’s
not because of Mean People. It’s not book sales, or blog tours, or book-deal-envy
or any of that stuff. It’s about me. And what I’ve been putting out into the
All authors say the same things when giving advice about writing, and it
boils down to this: It’s not easy. Being an author is hard work. You need to
accept this, and stop trying to fight it – or worse, wait around for it to get
easy. It’s not going to get easy. And
the longer you wait, the harder it gets. I found that out the hard way. As John
Green said, “The world is not a wish-granting factory.” Nobody cares if being
an author is your dream. They care about what you put out there – your book.
Your writing. And if you don’t work hard at it, nothing will ever happen. Your
dreams and wishes will not come true (Ahem, DISNEY) if you just lay around
singing about it (CINDERELLA).
You have to work. You have to take it seriously and – as hard as it is –
ignore the Mean People and the bad reviews and the fact that even though you
poured your heart and soul into your book, it isn’t a best-seller, or even a
mid-lister. You – I – have to get
over it. Move on. Because the world is not
a wish-granting factory, so you can’t treat it that way. If you want something –
and damn do I want it – you have to work your ass off for it. And then maybe –
just maybe – you’ll be lucky enough to get it.