As I’ve mentioned on Twitter and in Chase’s Diary, I recently ran a poll asking readers which of my upcoming books they would like released first under my new indie imprint home. ‘Between Enzo & the Universe’ was the very clear winner of that poll–which I found delightful, though surprising. Just in case anyone was wondering, that was not the book I was pulling for, but I am perfectly fine with the results.
So…my editor and the owner of the imprint had a call to discuss the future of ‘Enzo.’ And the real trouble began.
The trouble with ‘Enzo’ is that it is wildly different than anything else I’ve released up until now–even considering ‘The Gravity of Nothing.’ It has M/M Romance elements and probably falls into a New Adult category in some way–it’s obviously LGBTQ–but it’s predominantly just General Literature. It’s definitely not a book where I am trying to fit into a niche, but instead, just tell a story as openly and honestly as possible.
Then again, all of the 6 books I have lined up with my future imprint home are not exactly what you’d expect from me if you’ve read my previous works (well, ‘Jacob Michaels Is Dead’ will be, I suppose). I’ve been trying to “stretch my legs” as a writer, push myself to tell stories on a grander scale, attempt things that I wasn’t sure I could do in the past, and just prove to myself that I really am a writer.
I’ve never suffered from an overabundance of confidence or a severe lack of it, either. Confidence, in general, is a foreign concept to me. As a writer, but really as a person, I’ve always just felt that I would do my best and work hard at everything I decide to do and people will like it or hate it. How my work is received is not really in my hands, but the time, effort, energy, and talent that goes into it is something I can control.
The Lao Tzu quote: “Because one believes in oneself, one doesn’t try to convince others. Because one is content with oneself, one doesn’t need others’ approval. Because one accepts oneself, the whole world accepts him or her.” is how I have lived my life for nearly the past decade. At the end of the day, I can only be the best Chase Connor I can be and hope that everyone decides to jump in and join me on the ride.
Driver gets the aux cord first!
With ‘Enzo,’ I found myself, for the first time in a very long time, wondering if I was making a huge mistake. If maybe people will read something I wrote and say: “What the eff is this?” The blurb for the book is accurate in what to expect as far as story goes, but the structure itself, the way I tell the story, the language used…it’s all very different than to, say, ‘Just a Dumb Surfer Dude 3: Summer Hearts.’ I mean, the first 3 chapters of ‘Enzo’ are titled “The Coat Made of Sugar and Blue Clouds,” “Five is Better Than Four,” and “Red is the Color of Atonement” if that helps you picture what I am talking about here.
The themes in the book concern me as well. Family, religion, God, acceptance, poverty, loss, grief, immigration, finding one’s place in the world (and romance of course), make this one a difficult book to say: “Everyone’s going to love this!” I feel that it will be another book of mine that readers will have a love/hate relationship with–but hopefully more love than hate.
Ultimately, I’ve had to force myself to stay in the “do your job and leave the rest up to the reader” way of thinking.
That is what I’d like my fellow writers to take away from this experience of mine. Do your job. Do it to the best of your ability. Then give it over to whatever force you believe in without concern for how it will be received. None of that is within your control.
The important thing about your story is that no one can tell it in exactly the same way that you can. That’s what makes it special–not whether or not a million people want to read it–though that’s always nice. Critical or commercial success doesn’t necessarily validate or invalidate what you’ve done. As long as you can put your pen down or shut your laptop, satisfied with what you’ve accomplished, you should be proud.
Everything else is just opinions.
Tremendous Love & Thanks,
2 thoughts on “What We Control”
“I’ve always just felt that I would do my best and work hard at everything I decide to do and people will like it or hate it.”
Dude. That sounds a lot like confidence.
Being able to trust that your best is good enough is a beautiful thing.
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I agree and wholeheartedly relate. I thought I’d share some recentbthoughts of my own on this subject in your comments section, Chase.
“The best writing is TRUTH. Truth can make you, laugh, sigh, scowl, cry. But the best writing is the unflinching rooting out of a truth that lives inside us. Many aspects of life are common to all – and this can make some writing feel derivative. But every writer holds unique truths inside themselves. Only one person can tell this truth and that is the writer who possesses it. If the writer does not share this truth it will remain a secret forever. I think the writer’s job is to mine our authentic truths and explain them in ways that can hypnotize the readers. Drama. Comedy. We share our secret truths in stories so they are secret no longer. And sometimes our revealed truths change lives.”
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