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What others want, or what you want?

Updated: Nov 22, 2023

I think there is a balance in the creative act between creating what we as creators want to see, read, hear, experience versus what others want to see created. We focus here on writing, so the question is do we write the story we want to read or the story others want to read?

This is similar to the balance we must strike as writers, when we receive edits. Are we blazing a path of unique style, or are we stubborn and pigheaded, not listening to the input of others who are trying to explain why the method we are using to write, is wrong?

I started thinking about this again when this years Nobel prize was announced. Jon Fosse seems to be a man who leans into the former over the later. He has a unique sound and unique voice, and believes that it is a positive thing which won him the prize. He seems to believe other authors should follow their own voice.

Jon Fosse, Nobel Prize Winner
Jon Fosse, Nobel Prize Winner

But what if your own voice is filled with overtelling, bad cliché dialogue and passive voice? Is that your own voice or just bad writing?

What if you are a genuine genius? Your books and plays expand human knowledge and extent, giving voice to things which are previously unvoiced. Something new under the sun. But nobody understands it, so you are ignored, and your works never seen, or published.

How do we know which we are? Honestly looking at our own creative process and taking in criticism is hard. Knowing when our unique sound is being tamped down, vs knowing when our voice is just inexperience shining through takes time, and takes a willingness to look at our own failures with a harsh eye.

All creative endeavors do. Where your line is, and my line is will be different, but I guarantee there is one. Next time you are creating, ask yourself… am I being stubborn? Is it not as good as I think? Could other people be right? Could other people also be wrong, and this unique turn of phrase is meaningful, even if some people don’t understand it?

Be creative, but be humble.

Be willing to be wrong, but be willing to be right, just less often than you think. Have the discipline to tell yourself you are wrong.

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Anna Varlese
Anna Varlese
12. Nov. 2023
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Am I the crazy one? Great words I live by. :)

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