In my critique group last week we read a couple of new chapters from one of the members. The book she is writing is really good, the pacing is just right, the dialog spot on and I love the characters. I hope she can hear how much everyone in the group liked it.
At the end of the meeting she talked a little about another book she has written that is still not published. She said she started going to writing conferences for her genre and every “expert” told her to rewrite the book in a different way. Which she did. She said she rewrote that book three times, in three different POVs. And while it was a good piece of writing, it didn’t sing like the one she is working on now. She said that she’d decided to heck with the experts, she was going to write this new book the way she wanted to. And then go back and write that first book the way she thought it should have been written in the first place.
This conversation made me think of some of my own experiences with writing experts and how they pulled my writing in ways that didn’t reflect what my heart was telling me to do. As a dyed in the wool neurotic writer, I need validation, but perhaps all of us need to tell the stories we are driven to tell in the way we want to tell them. I suppose part of the problem is that while we are learning the craft of writing, we need to listen to the experts. But at some point we need to use the writing tools we’ve acquired and listen to our own opinions.