More than water flows through a burst dam

Part of a series of blog posts that chart my progress from couch potato to published author. See Perspiring Authors page for a sequential list. 

The dam was damn-well gone, I thought, feeling very smug and self-confident. Imagination poured out of me. Now all I had to do was seize my passion and believe in my destiny. Success would follow.


Identifying your passion is only a little portion of what leads to success. Working your ass off in preparation for the moment opportunity winks is the larger wedge.

But back then, I didn’t know that. I left Creative Writing aware of two things: I was not the best writer in the class but I was the person who wanted it the most. Armed with the power of the re-inflated dream, I signed up for Introduction to Novel Writing.

And discovered everybody wanted it as badly as me.

It was a tough semester.

Novel Intro’s teacher writes literary fiction. He produces a book every year or so, and rightfully receives favourable reviews. He also has a tell: whenever he wants to hide what he really thinks, he stares at the table and says things like, “yeah, plenty to work with there.” And thus, our disdain-filled professor spent a good portion of the semester shielding his eyes from our searching ones, in fear that we’d discover his true opinion.

I can’t dig my way into his brain, but I came to the unshakeable belief that he thought most of us sucked. Big time. We told, not showed. We liked clichés. We lost our story narrative. And we were thin on the right details.

From his class I got the following: a fistful of writing cautions and my first very public, put-down from another student over my genre choice (and baby, if you’re writing fantasy, romance, erotica, or horror, you will face that sneer at one point or another).

The result? I started Novel no. three, and everything I wrote for the next five months was pushed through the tight sphincter of literary pretension.

Learning from this one? 

Some people will curl their lip at your stuff.

Not because it sucks.

Just because it isn’t their stuff.

Get over it. 

I might have lingered there, forever the self-conscious writer, if not for Charlaine Harris. I’ll tell you about that next time.


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