For about a year now, I’ve had a silly idea for a story. Finally, I worked up the courage to write it and share it with the world—or, at least, the small part of the world that represents my readership. For several weeks, nobody mentioned it. I nearly succumbed to my old pattern of thinking: “This story is only interesting to you. Nobody else will get it. Why would you dare to think someone else would like this?”
This sort of self-talk is an epidemic among creatives. It is a way of putting down our work and donning a pretense of humility that is, in actuality, procrastination and pride. Instead of saying, “This is the story I’m called to write!” and trusting that someone out there will appreciate it, we kick our little ideas to the side as too unique to be worthwhile to anyone else.
To this, I can at last say, “Away from me and my writing, stubborn pride! Who are you, Ryanne, to think that your ideas are so marvelously unique that nobody else would appreciate them?”
The fact of the matter is that writing and publishing depend upon a certain lack of uniqueness. When we share our work with others, we hope that someone out there is similar enough to us to understand our ideas. To never share stories that express goodness, truth, and beauty is, essentially, to declare that nobody else in the world could possibly understand or enjoy them as we do. And isn’t that prideful?
In a world of billions of people (with billions of brains), how could I even venture to believe that what I write could only ever be interesting and impactful for me? That’s just prideful individuality. A far more honest and humble approach to my ideas should be: are these good ideas? Do they shed light on what is true? Are they beautiful? Whether or not someone else will “get” them is a secondary issue—if that.
Writer, you certainly have a unique voice and perspective, but you are not entirely unique. Your ideas are not completely foreign to other people, and that’s great news! Our culture idolizes originality, novelty, and uniqueness—but to a large extent, our work as creatives relies upon the conviction that someone out there will understand, appreciate, and relate to our writing, our music, our paintings…
The story I fought to forget was “The White Horse.” I told myself over and over that it wasn’t worth writing since who else would like it as much as I did? It was childish, I told myself, naturally forgetting that much of the world’s readers are or have children. When I finally published this piece on my blog, my fears seemed to be confirmed: nobody understood it. I was alone in my love for this little scribble until, out of nowhere, someone texted to tell me that she’d stumbled upon that story and wept over it.
“Me too!” I replied jubilantly.
Dear Reader, take heart. Dare to create what resonates with you so long as it is good, true, and beautiful. Trust that some kindred spirit will love what you create. Someone out there is bound to find your work, relate to your insights, and joyfully exclaim, “Me too!”