Your stories matter

There are many days as a writer when all I do is question myself.

Is this novel any good? Do I have any talent at all? Should I just give up the whole writing thing as a bad idea? Who would actually bother reading anything I’ve written? Do I really want to add to all those books on the shelf? Who am I to think I even can?

I could go on, but I think you probably get the idea. Writers are notoriously hard on themselves. (Although sometimes it seems as though no-one is quite as hard on themself as I am!)

During such days/weeks/months, I like to remind myself of a quote from Chris Baty, who founded NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), which encourages authors to pen a messy rough draft novel of 50,000 words in just 30 days.

Chris Baty says

Your voice is important, and your stories matter. Someone has waited their entire life to read the book you are writing.

When I read this (it can be found in the sidebar of this blog), something relaxes inside me and I can breathe again. Because I totally believe it. I’ve read and loved many novels that others have found incredibly dull, or poorly constructed, or lacking in elegance. Show me a best-selling wonderbook that doesn’t have its critics.

All readers are different, and it’s an accepted fact that different books have different audiences. Some readers want fast action, some want love, some want poetic language, some want to have their world view challenged…

Who knows why a book will resonate with one reader, while another hates it? It often seems unfathomable to me.

Anyway, the point of this is to remember that my writing will never appeal to all readers — and only those readers I genuinely do connect with really matter. Sure, it’s possible to gain useful feedback from those who aren’t my ideal audience; but I find it comforting to think that somewhere, someone will probably really like what I have written.

And that connection with some anonymous reader, who has decided to read my work based on the story, and without any preconceived ideas about me as a person, is what I aspire to. It’s what this whole gig is really about, really.


This post is in response to today’s #wanafriday prompt, which is to share a favourite quote. Do you have a favourite quote to share? Post and/or tweet to #wanafriday — or let me know in the comments. Here are some of the other contributions for this week:

  • Kim Griffin gets philosophical about life and ice cream
  • Janice Heck ponders Italian bakery food and TS Elliott
  • Cora Ramos shares the four stages of writing a novel using illuminating quotes

What’s your take on the quote I’ve shared above?

14 thoughts on “Your stories matter

  1. That IS comforting. I will have to remember that quote! Maybe even jot it down and attach it to my computer ๐Ÿ˜‰


  2. I LOVE that quote, Ellen! I believe it’s true too. Some of the books that resonated with me and changed my life were not award winners, or written by authors who are highly acclaimed. It was their voice, they way they told their story, that gave me exactly what I needed at that particular point in time. You are so right. Each of our stories matter, because we are the only ones who can tell them (in the way that we do).


  3. Great quote, Ellen. It can be so hard to keep that in mind when I’m bogged down in revisions and the whole process feels overwhelming. I’ll have to print that off and stick it on my writing bulletin board. ๐Ÿ™‚


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