Guest Post by Rebecca Taylor: “Am I Good Enough?”

By Rebecca Taylor

I think there may be a singular question that, at some time or another, burns in the soul of every writer.

“Am I good enough?”

As we barrel towards the 2014 RMFW conference this weekend, I know it’s a question that many writers are hoping to have answered for them. Whether they are waiting to hear about the contest results, hoping to stun an agent during a critique workshop, or praying for a partial request after a pitch appointment— the central premise for many aspiring writers is the same.

Am I a good enough writer to make it? Will I receive some evidence, a contest win, a request for more pages, a good critique, that will provide me with a fricking floatation device that would suggest I continue to dog paddle out here, alone, in the middle of this dark and stormy writer’s life instead of jumping aboard the next Disney Cruise ship filled with normal, happy, smiling people that get enough sleep?

And if I’m not good enough, will you just say so? Out loud and clear as a bell so that my head and heart can stop bleeding from wanting this thing that I don’t have a chance in hell of ever achieving?

Over the years, I’ve come to believe that this question doesn’t actually get answered to the satisfaction of many writers. Furthermore, it’s not even the correct question.

When we want someone to tell us, just tell us the truth, regarding our writing ability, we are only really looking at one piece of the “making it” puzzle—the talent piece. We want to know if people, the experts, think we have any talent for writing.

Talent is important, but it’s only going to get you in the door, and sometimes, if you don’t have these other two pieces, you’re not even getting that far.

What you need to find out is if you have three things:

  1. Talent—specifically, a great narrative voice
  2. A great Concept
  3. The skill to Structure a novel

In my opinion, number two and three are totally learnable skills (if you’re willing to actively seek out and study ways to get better.) Admittedly, number one is more difficult. I happen to think that anyone can improve his or her narrative voice, but that we tend to have a range of innate ability, or talent, to work with.

This is just my opinion.

Having said that, I know and you know that there have been PLENTY of books published by traditional houses that excel in concept and structure, but fall pretty flat in the narrative voice, or innate writing talent, department. So really, if we have nailed a great concept and we’ve become a Jedi Master of novel structure, there’s still hope for those of us with only a mediocre amount of talent—right?

So what’s my point? My point is, while you may be hoping for an agent or editor to fall all over themselves as soon as they hear about your fantastic book (or your concept) just remember it’s almost never as simple as, “Am I good enough?” (or am I talented?) The real question is more like, “Do I have a sufficient amount of writing talent that I have applied to a great concept in my skillfully structured novel?”

I mean, don’t ACTUALLY ask an agent this because they will definitely lean waaaay back, give you the “you’re a crazy writer” look, and then signal to the moderators to escort you as far away from them as humanly possible …just realize that these are the things that agents are looking for after they smile and say, “Send me the first thirty pages.”

Rebecca Taylor 2000X3000Rebecca Taylor is the young adult author of ASCENDANT, winner of the 2014 Colorado Book Award. The second book in the Ascendant series, MIDHEAVEN, will release in 2014 and her standalone novel, THE EXQUISITE AND IMMACULATE GRACE OF CARMEN ESPINOZA, is now available.

You can find more information about her work at www.rebeccataylorbooks.com.

 

 

 

 

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8 thoughts on “Guest Post by Rebecca Taylor: “Am I Good Enough?”

  1. Thanks for being here today, Rebecca. I ask myself that every time I gear up to pitch at a conference or send a query letter. After my first ever pitch session about 2004, I was convinced the answer was “NO!” But I keep plugging away, keep trying new things, dreaming…. 😀

    • Hi Patricia! That’s awesome. Honestly, these are questions every writer probably asks about every new project. Even very gifted writers sometimes get attached to less than stellar concepts.

  2. Great post. But I want to ask “Good enough for what or whom? Agents, publishers, or readers?” I suspect the answer may be different for each. Who ultimately gets to decide. Thanks for the thought-provoking post.

  3. The answer to your question “Am I good enough?” lies within each of us. The doubters, the confident, the cocky, the talented. Each ask this question in their own way, looking for a certain validation from someone, somewhere. Yes, we are good enough. Some to publish traditionally and make the big time, some to publish with smaller presses, some maybe an article or two, and some to self publish and sell a few books. Even those who write a novel and seek publication, they have proven they are good enough, for so many begin this writing endeavor and never finish anything.

    I am good enough, but I also know, I can (and will) be better.

  4. Wow, Rebecca, way to express what we have felt in our hearts, and what we have all said, mainly to ourselves. And BIG congrats on the Colorado Book Award. Maybe now that question has been answered for you! –Janet Lane

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