The Lies that Writers Tell Themselves

I’ve been saving this quote in my photo stream for several months because it struck me and I kept intending to write about it.


It reminded me of something that was said at last year’s Writing Well Workshop that has stuck with me. Sasha Martin (Life From Scratch) wanted to debunk the lies that all writers seem to tell themselves and I wrote it down in my notes as the title to her section. The lie that plagues me the most is a variation of the following:

*Who would want to read this?

She challenged us to seize the doubts, the questions and answer them.

This has all been done before. This echoes through my head repeatedly because I’m writing a vampire novel and vampires are trendy. I feel like the popularity of the vampire ebbs and flows like so many things but in the wake of Twilight I noticed that vampire novels flooded the market. And vampire movies, and vampire tv shows, merchandise, etc. Vampires were no longer pushed to the goth edges of the socially acceptable; they were pop culture icons now. The public was bored and the critics were making fun. I don’t remember if I was actively working on my novel then but it wouldn’t resemble its current incarnation anyhow. But I had been an avid devourer of novels in the genre and I had been planning (hell, dare I say even plotting) to write my own vampire novel since middle school. As you can imagine, I often feel discouraged.

I know that you can’t control what people think but it would bother me endlessly if people assumed I was writing to the trends, trying to make money by riding on the coattails of Twilight (it’s never been about the money). God forbid someone claim that my work is unoriginal.

But now, I’ve found ways to counter those doubts. First, by the time I finish, edit, and get accepted for publication (let’s stay positive here), the vampire trend will be in the distance and the world will be primed and ready for a new take on an old myth.

And second, well, you have to tackle that word “original” or “unique” because we ALL borrow from other writers. There are even arguments that are no more original stories left! Sometimes, I don’t even realize that I am doing it. Sometimes, I do, reading widely and taking someone’s idea and twisting it until it’s my own.  But even if I wrote something steeped in goth and horror tradition, it still wouldn’t be a copy of anyone else’s. It’s my story to tell and only I can tell it this way. Yes, I am writing a vampire novel, like so many before me, but this is my contribution to the genre, to the long conversation passed through books and down through generations.

I am adding my voice to the song.




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