On Writing: Fear of Not Being the Best

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Along with freezing temperatures and delayed school starts, March winds always blow in allergies. I don’t know what exactly I’m allergic to, but whenever the weather changes here in Tennessee, I find myself surrounded by a pile of tissues, bereft of the will to leave the couch. Thus, I’ve done a lot of reading this week, mainly to my younger child who apparently inherited my overzealous immune system.

I’ve read three middle-grade books, one YA, and about a dozen picture books. I also threw in some fairy tales, Aesop’s fables, a comic book, and some board books for old time’s sake. There were books from my childhood, my parents’ childhood, and books published only this year. A few of the books were written in lyrical poetry, and the advanced books were text-only, which meant I had to work twice as hard with my character voices in order to keep my daughter’s attention and guide her through the wordier parts.

About halfway through this Read-o-Rama, I had an epiphany. Many of you, I’m sure, yanked this lightbulb chain a long time ago, so it’s ok to sigh at me in three seconds. My epiphany was this: You don’t have to be the best writer in order to be a writer. Fear of not being the best at something has held me back in myriad ways, especially in writing. But after reading a full school curriculum’s worth of reading in one week, it occurred to me that everything I was reading was published, distributed, sold, and in people’s houses all across the country, if not the world. And none of it was the best. Some of what I was reading defied all of today’s trends and broke all of an editor’s “rules.” And yet, here was this author’s work, in the hands of a mother and her child. The author’s dream had come true, and it didn’t matter that the book hadn’t won any awards, or that it was now out of print. The story was being shared from one generation to another. The words were living on. Your words can do that, too. Don’t let your fear of not being the best stop you from sharing what you have.

Tell me about your favorite childhood book at Kate@KateLanders.com.