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Ignore Your Haters and Pursue Your Dream

I’m a writer. Deep down in my soul, that’s all I’ve ever wanted to be. I’m often surprised by the response I receive when I tell people I’m a writer. It seems to make some folks uncomfortable. Out of polite obligation, I’m usually asked where I’m published. After I list my publications, which are all short prose and poetry so far, the responses aren’t always positive.

I took one of the anthologies, in which I have a story published, to a family gathering last year. I was excited because the book was comprised of only Missouri writers. Most of my family members looked at the book and said nice things. A couple of them refused to look at it, and that’s okay. They aren’t required to read my words.

They think I’m wasting my time, and I’ve made peace with their lack of interest. At least if they aren’t saying anything, they aren’t actively trying to hurt me. I didn’t realize any of my kinfolk held actual disdain for my craft until that night. Nothing could have prepared me for the moment one of my cousins read my first paragraph and asked me if I paid to have my story included.

I was stunned at his harsh question and rendered speechless. Another relative answered him with a brilliant, “She’s a professional. She doesn’t pay to be published. She gets paid to be published.”

My family member wasn’t finished being snide, though. He asked me why the first paragraph wasn’t indented. He knew it should be because that’s how he learned to write in school. He didn’t know why I thought I was special enough to ignore the rules of writing.

I explained the publisher is the one who left-justified the first paragraph, which is a common practice in the publishing industry. I was quite hurt by his whole attitude toward what I considered to be a great accomplishment. The episode put a pall on the rest of the evening. A year later, it still sticks in my craw when I think about it.

Most of us have stories like this. I follow several bestselling authors on Twitter, and happened across a post from Lori Foster, bestselling romance author, discussing snide remarks and backhanded compliments she receives. I was amazed that someone as accomplished as Lori suffers such negative comments.

Lori Foster is one of my idols, and she’s been in the business for a long time. She has her own motor coach with her face on the side of it. She’s world famous. People line up around the block to have her sign their books. She is who I aspire one day to emulate. Yet, she deals with people trying to hurt her feelings and make her feel bad about herself. She’s like many of us in that regard.

I deal with this sort of negativity by connecting with other writers. When someone manages to get a barb into my ever-thickening writer skin, I email the Prose Sisters (my critique group) who offer me support, encouragement, and validation. Then I look at the beautiful books on my shelf that comprise most of my publishing credits.

I work a full-time day job. I also have familial obligations. Yet I pour every ounce of time and energy I can muster into perfecting my craft. I attend gatherings with writers of various genres and different approaches to writing, marketing, and publishing. I go to writers’ conferences where I meet others like me from all over the country and learn from those who have achieved great success. I take classes and watch webinars. I belong to four writers groups and learn things from each one. I’m constantly learning and striving.

I want each of you to know that there is nothing wrong with doing something you love. It’s not a waste of time or something for which you should feel ashamed. You should be proud of your efforts. Putting your heart into something is difficult. Sharing the fruits of your passion with others can be terrifying.

If you are doing those things, then I applaud you. If you aren’t quite there, but are striving, then I encourage you to keep going. Take a moment to pat yourself on the back for pursuing your dream. The haters don’t know what they’re missing.

I have a story published in each of the books advertised below. Missouri’s Emerging Writers is the book I referenced above.

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