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3 Reasons Why You’re Not Finding Success

You’ve been at your craft for a few years, but you still haven’t found success. You’re wondering why it is so, and you’re beginning to question the value of your work. Are you not good enough? Are you doing something wrong? Why is it so difficult to get a big break? Let me tell you why.

#1 You expect to be famous overnight.

So often we dream of becoming an overnight success. We imagine what it would be like to have a video go viral or a scout offering us a million dollar deal. We imagine what could be, and we hope for it to be true. But even though there’s nothing wrong in hoping for great things, we sometimes expect our hope to reflect in reality. And that’s when we fail.

Hoping for rain and expecting rain are two different things – both approaches result differently. Hope keeps our passion alive – it pushes us to persevere and believe in our dreams. But expectation does the opposite – it questions our efforts and discourages us from dreaming. So… you can hope to be famous overnight, but you shouldn’t expect it.

I’ve personally seen people give up on their dreams because their efforts didn’t result in their expectations. It’s disappointing and almost always annoying. Why? Because they’ve barely begun. They think that 3 years into their craft should result in success. And with that expectation, they’re relying on success to keep them motivated. But despite success being a great motivator, it shouldn’t be the only motivator. This leads me to believe they don’t know why they’re doing what they’re doing.

#2 You don’t know why you’re doing what you’re doing.

It takes years to find success. I wrote my first novel almost 7 years ago, and I still haven’t found ‘success’. I’m not a millionaire. My recent publishing deals are the result of hustling my personal network. And there’s no way I can survive (let alone feed myself) by merely writing fiction. But, I know why I’m doing what I’m doing. I even wrote a blog post on why I write.

The purpose of my writing is my motivation. I don’t need overnight success. I hope for it, but I’m at peace with the thought of never being famous. It doesn’t bother me, nor does it challenge my efforts, when my hope doesn’t reflect my reality. And I can say all this because my reason redefines my success. Success isn’t fame and money – ‘success’ is something else.

#3 You don’t define your ‘success’.

If you live by the world’s definition of success, which is often money, power, and fame, you may never find it. But if you redefine success to complement your purpose – in life and in your craft – you will find it. And hey, if you wish to keep the world’s definition, by all means do so. But don’t aim for success without knowing your reason. It is your purpose that’ll lead you, motivate you, and bring about the success you hope for.

By default, finding success isn’t difficult. It’s our perspective that makes the quest a challenge. It’s our expectation that makes it ‘one step forward and two steps back’. But if we hope for it and persevere with a purpose, we will find it. It may not be in the form of money and fame, but it’ll be the kind of success that is meaningful, valuable, and personal to us.

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Posted by on November 16, 2017 in Writing Journey

 

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Nightmare | Lantern | Murder

The three-headed monstrosity, with emerald green scales, wide bat-like wings, thick murderous whipping tail, and six pairs of black beady eyes, rose from its slumber. It shattered the still night – bursting through the glistening waters into the starry canvas above. Screeching in fury, it lowered its gaze at the sailing party that boldly awakened it.

“What do we do?”

“Cast the invisibility spell!”

“What? We didn’t summon it to hide.”

Beep, beep, beep.

“Use the lightning spell!”

Beep, beep, beep.

“Whose is that?” I asked.

Beep, beep, beep.

“It’s mine. Sorry guys, we have to end the game.”

“You gotta be kidding me.”

“I’m sorry. You know how my parents are like.”

I peered out the window of our wooden treehouse. The night was young – families still roamed the streets – with boisterous excitement in the air.

“The kids are still out. And your house is ten feet away,” I stated.

“It’s late. And I don’t want to die.”

“Your house is just there,” I repeated.

“I have to go.” He maneuvered past me – careful not to knock over our game pieces – toward the rope ladder. “I’ll see you guys at school, alright,” he added. And with that, he left.

“Buzzkill,” I murmured, rising to my feet.

The twins followed suit and we grudgingly descended, what we called, our ‘Adventure Fort’.

“See you guys on Monday,” I said, jogging to my bicycle.

“See you,” the twins replied in unison. “And don’t let the Jack-O-Lantern get you!” the twins added, cycling off in the opposite direction.

The murder had ruined a promising weekend. And honestly, I couldn’t understand the paranoia. People died all the time. Crazy people existed. To me, the commotion was exaggerated. Whether it was the Jack-O-Lantern or the Serial Santa, learning about another death by another killer was plain old news. I didn’t gasp, question, or cry. I was nonchalant – never a victim, but so was the majority. It baffled me that half the town wanted to cancel the weekend.

As I sped down the street, where parents ushered their children for their final ‘trick-or-treat’, I decided to ring a few doorbells. Knowing my parents didn’t mind if I stayed out late, I cycled into one, then two, and then three more driveways until my backpack brimmed with treats. After which, I headed home – it was almost midnight and my street had gone to bed.

That night, I expected nothing out of the ordinary. Strolling into my house, I shuffled straight to the dining room and emptied the contents of my backpack on the table. But it was then, I heard a noise. It was a series of thuds, alike a banging on the wall – muffled and periodic. It didn’t come from above, but below.

“Dad?” I called.

The thudding stopped. I shrugged it off and returned to separating my treats. The night was still for five minutes. Then, I heard another sound. This time, it didn’t come from below. As though something heavy was being dragged, my curiosity spurred my feet into action.

“Mum?”

I strode to the back of the house. Arriving in the kitchen, I fumbled for the light switch. But just before I made the flip, I caught sight of a figure in my backyard through a window.

The figure donned a red check shirt beneath a blue denim jumper. With a large pumpkin head resting on its shoulders, it hovered over a lifeless creature. Inching closer for a better look, the dead creature’s form came into view. It wasn’t a large animal, as I’d previously assumed – it was a person.

I gasped – hands cupped over my mouth. I didn’t know what to do. Should I run, hide, or call the police? Was the dead person one of my parents? No, it was merely a trick – an elaborate trick my father occasionally played on me. But, I hesitated. I didn’t dare to face the figure outside.

Backing away from the darkness, the kitchen lights flicked on. I jumped startled and spun toward the doorway. My heart pounded in my chest, as I stared at the person before me.

“You’re home early,” my mother said.

“It’s… it’s midnight,” I replied. Then snapping my head toward the window, I said, “There was someone outside.” Gesturing at the now vacant backyard, I stuttered, “I-I-it-it looked like the Jack-O. It wasn’t you, was it?”

“No,” my mother replied.

“We need to call the police,” I said. But just as I headed for the phone, my father stepped into my path. “Dad! Someone’s outside. You have to call the police.”

“There’s no one outside,” my father said. “I just came from outside.”

“So it was you?” I asked. Then gazing at him from head to toe, I noticed his brown-stained shoes and sweat-covered shirt. “What… what were you dragging?”

“Happy Halloween!” my father replied, with a childish grin. “I got you, didn’t I?”

“That was a trick?” I frowned – it was a horrible trick with no pay off. “But-”

“It’s late,” my mother interrupted. “You should go to bed.”

Before I could respond, my mother led me to my room. She didn’t answer any of my questions. And it became obvious. As the clocked ticked into the night, I laid still and awake in my feathered bed. I couldn’t sleep – not with the haunting sound of dragging bodies below. How many were there? I didn’t want to know. All I hoped for was day to arrive – the end of this nightmare. That’s right, it was simply a nightmare – a figment of my imagination, just like my three-headed dragon.

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Nightmare, lantern, and murder were words given by Kurotsuba. You might have noticed I drew inspiration from Stranger Things and the classic Goosebumps stories. As I didn’t have much time to work on this piece, I just went with the theme of the season. Hopefully, it isn’t too weak of a tale from being rushed.

Now, it’s your turn. I challenge you to use this same three words to write a piece of your own. The real challenge is writing out of theme. I wish I had more time to do so, but perhaps you could give it a go.

*To download the banner, left-click then right-click to save.

3 Words, 1 Story © 2017 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

(Click HERE for a list of stories in this writing challenge.)

 
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Posted by on October 26, 2017 in Original Works

 

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Bottle | Page | Mindful

My story began many years ago, when my people fled from civilization. They boarded great single-masted ships with a hundred oars, rowing themselves to an island I called home. As part of the nescient youth, I didn’t know the reason for their departure. The real cause of history skewed through generations, with many echoing old wives’ tales. However, I did know one thing. Constantly reminded by my mother and grandmothers, I knew to never leave the island.

The island was a beautiful place. We had lush greens, tall shady trees, and peachy beaches. The surrounding prodigious ocean unveiled the sun in the morning, shimmered at noon, and mirrored the universe by night. Our kingdom was magnificent, with wooden walls bound by flowering vines. It stretched across a valley and reached toward the peak of Gloria – the tallest of the three mounts. I loved the island and the sun-kissed people. It was home – a perfect abode. So, I embraced my ignorance. I wasn’t mindful of the past, until I found a glass bottle at the north beach.

I was on my return from a night’s work at sea. The sky was in its traditional hue of grey, gracefully transitioning to blue upon day’s arrival. Hauling my catch, I passed the bedrock by the narrow, sanded pathway leading toward the kingdom. It was there I found a corked, clear glass bottle secured in a crevice. Inside was a crisps, rolled piece of parchment. Mildly curious, I yanked the bottle free and carried on with my day.

As a fisher, my days often ended a couple of hours past noon. I would usually retreat to my wooden house – absent of my family, as their day had only just begun – to sleep till the moon clocked in. That evening however, I decided to stay up past my bedtime. Uncorking the bottle and retrieving the parchment within, I was alike a child eager for an adventure. But to my dismay, there was no treasure map. The parchment was merely a page, seemingly torn from an old diary. And though the writing was in my language, it was nonsensical. There was no message – nothing about it worth my initial excitement. Did someone lodge the bottle in the bedrock as a joke? If it was gifted from across the sea, did a child toss it in a game of make belief? Those were my thoughts.

We ate from the mouths of beasts. ran On fire. from Which the creatures of the sea have not birth. nothing We did meant anything. tangible They said it was. but Not without illusion. the Sky was more real than dreams. fear More elusive than hope. of Those who were ignorant. change Came for mankind.

We found the nest in the west. couldn’t See the light beyond. embrace The hidden jewels within. unity Of the people – we Found our treasure. secluded However, were the many souls. ourselves Beings of detached nature. from Then till now. the Creature ruled. world Was his.

We couldn’t grasps our freedom. didn’t Find the star. believe They kept saying. in Time the creature would free us. acceptance Of fate was reality. so Loss and lost and lose. we Died a many years. indoctrinated Through the imaginations of the truth. our Eyes can no longer see. young And fearless in obscurity.

We cannot live anymore. must Is only a word. arise From darkness is no man’s call. now A broken race without spirit. Leave no one ever said. the Ravings of madness in those words. ways Of the past is the future. of Many, many more. discrimination Is faith. and Acceptance is weakness. learn Not from the creature. to Live is not in light. love, Love, love only the night.

For two days, I left the page crumpled at the corner of my room. Then on the third day, I picked it up. I planned to toss it among the logs, set ablaze in the chilly weather. But before I did, I read it once more. And upon that read, I noticed something odd. The writing remained senseless – a poor attempt at a poetic adventure – but so was the structure. I was no writer, let alone poet, but I was educated. Calling out the repeated errors, I unintentionally uncovered the message in the bottle. It was a message I’ve heard before – a message that costed a young farmer his head.

That very night itself, I returned to the north beach. Along with my fishing nets, I brought the page – nestled in its glass home. I couldn’t share the truth, but I could pass it on. Perhaps another would find it in the bedrock. Perhaps more would uncover history. Perhaps then, we could change the future. But before such a time arrived, I was going to search. There was more to the farmer’s declaration. And I knew, I could never leave the island – not until I’ve read the entire book.

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Bottle, page, and mindful were words given by Vela June. There’s some ‘reading between the lines’ for this one, so do share what you’ve discovered – I hope this story isn’t as nonsensical as the message in the bottle.

Now, it’s your turn. I challenge you to use this same three words to write a piece of your own. Also, to complete this year’s 3 Words 1 Story collection, I need two more sets of random words. I know, throwing the oddest collection of words into a comment can be quite a challenge. But don’t think too hard – just leave whatever comes to mind. Thank you in advance!

*To download the banner, left-click then right-click to save.

3 Words, 1 Story © 2017 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

(Click HERE for a list of stories in this writing challenge.)

 
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Posted by on September 28, 2017 in Original Works

 

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Two Weeks, No Post?

For those who’ve been following me for a while, you know I don’t skip posting unless I’m on vacation. Hence, my absence is pretty unnatural. And unfortunately, if you read my recent post on my book, it’s due to a broken promise. I said I’d still be posting while I worked on my novel. However, while I rewrote The Slave Prince, I realised my attention couldn’t be directed elsewhere. So, I’m sorry.

As I’m transitioning to a new day job, I needed to complete my book rewrite before September began. My rewrite outline was confirmed on the 23rd of August. That meant, I didn’t have much time before September rolled around. So I wrote, every single day. I spent a total of 56 hours rewriting my novel, adding close to 6,000 words of new material. And, I’m still not done. Yesterday, I sent my rewritten manuscript to Inkshares. If there are no issues with the book, it’ll enter copy editing. But, if there are cracks I failed to notice during my rewrite, I’ll have to revisit the manuscript. Hopefully, it isn’t the latter.

Now that the workload isn’t as arduous, I hope to start posting again. I plan to share my experience on developmental editing next week, as it has been a pretty interesting process. Of course, once The Slave Prince enters copy editing, I’ll be sharing that experience too. And, on top of that, the book will come with a kingdom and realm map. I’m looking forward to see my world charted, and would share that whole process as well. But for today, I’d appreciate if you accept this post as a post. Forgive me for not sharing anything substantial for three weeks. Trust me, I tried. But when your book calls for you, alike a needy toddler, you have little choice but to attend to it.

With that said, if you’re new to my blog, thank you for hopping on board – I was surprised to find new subscriber emails in my inbox! Rest assured, my truancy isn’t habitual. It’s just writing season. And with readers waiting on The Slave Prince, I’ve got to get it done.

 
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Posted by on September 7, 2017 in Others

 

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Office | Crush | Fail

My mother always said, “Beware of broken memories.” It was a strange thing to say to a child. And growing up, I assumed the warning came from a place of hurt – my father left when I was twelve, and my brother died at birth. But oddly enough, my mother never uttered those words to my sister. It was for me, only for me, she often insisted.

After my mother’s death, I left the countryside for the city. My hometown was the embodiment of broken memories. But little did I know, moving into the world beyond was where my mother’s words proved true. It started a year after I settled down, on a regular day at the office, when talk of the new manager reached my desk.

“I looked him up – he’s listed in the world’s top ten most eligible bachelors,” Kristen said.

“Someone has a crush… again,” Will stated.

Instead of frowning, as she usually did, Kristen nodded with a grin. “I call dibs. Don’t steal him,” she said to me.

“He’s all yours,” I replied. I wasn’t interested in relationships. After witnessing my mother’s heartbreak, I was sold on embracing my singlehood.

“Aw, I was looking forward to a fight,” Will said.

“Shut it, Will. I have enough competition as it is,” Kristen snapped. “He’s just too… I can’t even… ah…” Kristen clasped her phone at her chest in a moment of daydream.

Shaking his head, Will leaned toward me. “Have you seen this guy?”

“Well, Kristen showed me a picture. He kinda looks like someone I know.”

“Who?” Kristen asked.

“I’m not sure. He just looks… familiar – like I’ve seen him before.”

“Please don’t tell me he’s a movie star,” Will said.

“I don’t know – maybe?”

“He’s a movie star?” Kristen gasped. Without hesitation, she tapped away at her phone.

“Look what you’ve done.” Will sighed.

“Sorry.”

To my relief, our conversation ended shortly after – after Kristen confirmed he wasn’t a movie star. But it was to Will’s dismay, as we were interrupted by the man of the hour. He strode onto our floor in an iron-pressed suit, tailored for his swimmer’s physique. As he greeted everyone with a friendly smile, I could almost hear Kristen’s heart beating out of her chest. Indeed, he was an attractive man. Yet there I was, trying to recall where I’d seen him. And the more I racked my brain, the stronger enmity there was.

“He’s perfect,” Kristen whispered, nudging me for affirmation. Unfortunately, I could only offer a shrug. I couldn’t pretend to adore him, when I had a strange urge to flee. It seemed silly to have such a notion. But, my instincts have saved me before. And I couldn’t ignore its prompt, especially in the presence of – what I concluded as – evil.

That day, after lunch, I began my search for a new job. It was an irrational move – I was well aware of how I looked with my reasoning. But I had to. I just had to. And by the time everyone started departing for home, I had a list of potential companies. Not wanting to waste another day, I stayed back to file my applications. And it was then, my craziness proved my sanity.

“You’ve seen me before, haven’t you,” he said.

I jumped in my seat. There he was, standing across my desk – how did I not hear him? His voice was deep and emotionless. And in fear, I refused to meet his gaze.

“No,” I replied, as I rose to my feet. Hastily, I packed my belongings – ready to retreat.

“Don’t lie. I’m not a fan of liars,” he stated.

“I’m not lying,” I said. Then snatching my bag, I gave a shallow nod and stalked toward the exit.

“I know of you,” he added. He paced alongside my quick steps, but absent were the clicking of his shoes on the wooden floor. “I remember – my memory has yet to fail me.”

“Sorry, but I don’t remember you,” I replied. “Goodnight.”

“Very well. I hope to see your resignation tomorrow,” he said.

I was ten feet away from the elevator, but I halted in my steps. Was that a threat, or did he know? Alike a prey falling for a predator’s trap, I asked, “What?”

“Do you not think that there are things which you cannot understand, and yet which are; that some people see things that others cannot?”

“I don’t…”

His words resonated perturbation. I needed to leave – I wanted to – but instead, I turned to meet his placid mien. And in that moment, I remembered. It wasn’t a complete memory, but I knew where I’d seen him. His words, quoted from a book inspired by his very existence, now etched itself in my memory. And no matter how hard I tried to forget, I knew who he was.

“It’s better to forget,” he said.

“I don’t… d-don’t know what you’re talking about,” I managed to utter.

“Good.” He smiled.

As I stood frozen, he strolled past me and called for the elevator. Upon its arriving ding, he gestured for me to enter. As though I was under a spell, I obediently did as he commanded. And when the doors closed, I didn’t question a thing. I knew, that soon enough, that night would be a broken memory. He would become a figment of doubted history. And as long as I didn’t see him again, I could move forward… safe from a past I cannot remember – safe from a memory that wasn’t even mine.

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Office, crush, and fail were words given by Rico/Pat. I’ve sleep on this set for weeks – wondering how to approach it. And since I didn’t want to write a cliche, as these words naturally suggested, I tried to pull off a twist. I can only hope you didn’t see it coming.

Now, it’s your turn. I challenge you to use this same three words to write a piece of your own. Oh, and since I have no more words – seriously, I’ve used them all up – please send me more! Please leave 3 random words in the comment section below. I’d really appreciate it!

*To download the banner, left-click then right-click to save.

3 Words, 1 Story © 2017 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

(Click HERE for a list of stories in this writing challenge.)

 
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Posted by on August 17, 2017 in Original Works

 

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The Art of Handling Rejection

I’ve ran two crowd-funding campaigns, pitched multiple books to publishers, and I’m now on a hunt for an agent. It’s safe to say, at this point of time, I’m immune to rejection. Really – it doesn’t elicit any response from me. In fact, it makes me happy – it’s a relief to encounter rejection. Because rejection is better than silence… and rejection means there’s one less reject in the duration of my quest. But, is there an art in handling rejection?

How does one define art – how does one grade the quality of art? Why are some pieces higher in value, while others are sold cheap in the market place? Why are splats of paint hanging in a gallery, while the strokes of a picturesque countryside are left in an attic? What determines art? Perspective – art is about perspective.

So back to the question: is there an art in handling rejection? Yes – perspective.

I like to look at rejection in the perspective of a job seeker. You see, when you’re looking for a job, you don’t expect a callback from every company you apply to. And for the few that invite you to an interview, there’s no guarantee they’d hire you. Even if you nail the tough questions, you might be rejected. Fortunately, you’re well aware of this. If you’re not, you’ll soon realise it’s reality – you’ll apply, you’ll receive a few calls, and you’ll be rejected. But, you’ll eventually find the one. And in the midst of the hunt – in need of survival – you have no time to think about your rejections. You move quickly to the next opportunity, because an opportunity matters more.

With this perspective, does a rejection really matter? Should you give it more than a second of your day? No, because there’s another opportunity waiting. And if you don’t seize that opportunity, you’ll never know if it’s the one.

Just like art, the art of handling rejection is about perspective. How much weight you give each ‘thanks, but no thanks’ is determined by its importance in your perception. If it is of little significance, you won’t be fazed. If you focus on the opportunities, you won’t linger in the past. So, how are you perceiving rejection? Are you giving it more time than you should? Are you letting it blear your future?

During both my crowd-funding campaigns, I was under 3 months of stress. I hustled everyone I knew. And the more I hustled, the more rejections I received. But despite being upset, I couldn’t dwell on each rejection. In order for The Battle for Oz and The Slave Prince to succeed, I needed to find someone who’d support me. I couldn’t waste time convincing those who wouldn’t, because I hadn’t convinced those who haven’t. Thankfully, despite rejection being a part of my journey, it didn’t change the fact that both my books were a success.

Having experienced waves of rejection, I know its value – it amounts to little when you’re desperate. It has no hold over your passion. And its presence will not affect the outcome. The only thing that rejection does is make you stronger – you’ll be bolder and more determined than before. And despite its negative connotation, experiencing it is a good thing.

Today, I embrace rejection. I’m unafraid of it’s daunting shadow, gladly welcoming it in my life. It has taught me to focus on my passion. It has made my dreams worth chasing. And the more opportunities I seek – the more rejections I face – the closer I’ll be to my goal. That’s my perception – my art… of handling rejection.

 
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Posted by on July 27, 2017 in Writing Journey

 

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Is Genre Important?

I think we’ve all wondered, at some point during our creative journey, if genre is important. We question if fantasy sells better, if post-apocalyptic is hot this season, if memoirs win more awards, if our genre – the one we love and consider mastering – is worth pursuing. So, let me just clear this up today. This is a personal statement. I am in no way claiming my thoughts are based on a rule, and I’m speaking from my belief: personally, I don’t think genre is important. What brought me to this conclusion? Why – why I write.

Genre isn’t important, because I’m not trying to be the next bestseller. Now, I’m not saying it’s wrong to want to be the next bestseller. Heck, if that’s your goal, go for it – I’ll cheer you on! But, personally, my goal isn’t to write the next hit novel. I have no plans to craft what the majority of people want to read. My goal is to write what is meaningful to me and what I think is important to share. And if I end up being a bestseller along the way, that’s a bonus! If not, it makes no difference in my authoring career. I’m still going to write what I want to write.

Genre isn’t important, because I’m also not trying to win any awards or competitions. Again, if that’s your goal, please don’t take any offense at my personal statement. I know what type of a writer I am – far from literary and a fan of simplicity. And through my past experiences, writing for awards and competitions, I’ve found myself pretending. Well, it feels like it – it feels like I’m ditching my voice and writing to suit the preference of another. And I know… that’s not me. That’s not how I write. Though there’s nothing wrong with challenging myself and writing outside of the box, I don’t enjoy doing so for the sake of winning. Personally, it doesn’t feel right. And, well, it’s just not fun – it kind of feels like work.

Genre isn’t important, because it doesn’t fit my writing goals. But of course, the same cannot be said for you. Perhaps your goal is different. Or, perhaps, you’ve yet to find your genre.

If you’ve yet to find your genre, I encourage you to try them all. Play around with bildungsroman, attempt a crime (story), and dive into satire. Don’t limit your ability to be creative just because science fiction is gaining traction, or because zombie novels are adapted into movies. Find your genre by exploring them. But more importantly, know why you write.

Steven Furtick once said that if you have a strong ‘why’, the ‘what’ doesn’t matter. What genre you’re writing doesn’t matter if your why is the force behind it. So, if you’re questioning your choice, I encourage you to uncover the reason behind your passion. If your reason is to win awards, then write to win awards. If your reason is to be the next J.K Rowling, then write to become a bestseller. If your reason is to inspire, then don’t let anyone tell you to write otherwise. And if your reason is purely for entertainment – because you love writing – then don’t be ashamed, just write!

In the big picture, genre pales in importance. Yes, it’s a facet of writing. But, it doesn’t make a masterpiece. It’s the pastel in the background – the base on your canvas. The real art are the strokes on top – the story that stands out and makes a statement. Your story holds greater value – it is your artwork and skill that sells by the millions, not your chosen base colour. So don’t focus on the genre. A good story can be written in any setting, but a bad story finds no success even under a popular label. It is what you say that matters most. And you can’t say anything substantial without a solid why.

 
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Posted by on July 20, 2017 in Writing Journey

 

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