Saturday, March 23, 2013

On Writing: Elizabeth Gilbert

I never read Elizabeth Gilbert's bestseller Eat Pray Love.  Nor have I seen the movie of the same name,  with Julia Roberts in the lead role.  I had read somewhere that it wasn't her first published piece of writing.  And her concern -- which she discussed during a TED talk -- that she would never write something that would eclipse the success of that novel, has proved true to date.  But like many writers, it took her some time and many rejections before she started getting published. Her words about writing are a great reminder that for all the succesful writers we see published, they also have stories of failure and rejection. Books sitting on shelves in Barnes and Noble or on, or in a small private bookstore, is possibly the one book from tens or hundreds of tries or submissions, and the one sitting on the shelf is due to sheer hard work, talent, skill, and perseverance.

From Elizabeth Gilbert's blog:

"It has never been easy for me to understand why people work so hard to create something beautiful, but then refuse to share it with anyone, for fear of criticism. Wasn’t that the point of the creation – to communicate something to the world? So PUT IT OUT THERE. Send your work off to editors and agents as much as possible, show it to your neighbors, plaster it on the walls of the bus stops – just don’t sit on your work and suffocate it. At least try. And when the powers-that-be send you back your manuscript (and they will), take a deep breath and try again. I often hear people say, “I’m not good enough yet to be published.” That’s quite possible. Probable, even. All I’m saying is: Let someone else decide that. Magazines, editors, agents – they all employ young people making $22,000 a year whose job it is to read through piles of manuscripts and send you back letters telling you that you aren’t good enough yet: LET THEM DO IT. Don’t pre-reject yourself. That’s their job, not yours. Your job is only to write your heart out, and let destiny take care of the rest."

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