Please excuse any mess around here while blog is undergoing damage repair.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Better To Look Good Than To Feel Good

Or is it? As many of you already know, I'm only five feet tall. To add a little height, I typically wear heels. (Nothing like the one pictured here, but still, at least a small heel.) This has never been a problem. Until recently, that is. I had to work at drill team competitions the last two weekends. This meant being on my feet for way too long. About eight hours into the first competition, I realized that heels weren't such a good idea. Needless to say, I wore flats the next time around. It got me thinking about why I care how tall I am. I came to this conclusion: society prefers taller individuals. Everything is designed for people who are at least two inches taller than me. I have a hard time seeing over the hood of my car when I'm driving. I can't reach the top shelf in my kitchen cabinets, and I have to stand on a chair to clean the mirrors above our bathroom sinks. There are certain instances when wearing a heel is both functional and comfortable. However, there are also times when it's painful regardless of the purpose it serves. Now, here's the part where I relate this to writing. How important is it to conform to industry preferences when we are writing? Do we sacrifice comfort to fit in? I'd have to say that it depends. There have been things I've changed during my revisions to please the industry without causing myself too much discomfort. There are other changes, though, that have been downright excruciating. In my opinion, the most important thing is to follow your heart, to follow your passion, and to write what you are fired up about. If making changes to please the industry doesn't sacrifice that, then I say do it. So, what do you think?

40 comments:

Matthew Delman said...

It depends on what the change means to your story. If it means you're altering the way the storyline works, then I'd shy away from doing so.

If not, then I say go for it.

Tamika: said...

We are always called to leave of our comfort zone for uncharted waters. The key is sticking to God's plan- if He is the one nudging then all hands on deck!

Writing is the not the only part of my life that stretches me, and frankly I need the workout.

Paul Greci said...

I'd tell the story you want to tell knowing that the story may change overtime as you receive feedback. I think sometimes we have to re-evaluate and ask ourselves: Is this the story I wanted to tell? Or, Is this what this story has become something I want to tell?

Brigitte said...

I say, the industry doesn't much matter when it comes to art. I consider writing as an art, so really, it's up to you to write what you want, and no matter what you type up, it's a sure fact that someone out there will appreciate that you did. It will drive people to read it.
The same goes for me. I'm no professional writer, but as a film maker in the making, I understand the importance of doing what I love - regardless of critics, stereotypes, or hollywood standards.
I think the real question by now is: Do you want to do it for the love of doing it, or for fame & fortune?

looking-glass-fables.blogspot.com

Corey Schwartz said...

I agree... follow your heart!

Natalie said...

Oh man, I couldn't wear heals all the time. I'm a comfort girl all the way (but then again I'm fairly average height-wise).

I try to just tell my story. If a book or blog gives me a new idea that will make it BETTER than I take it, if not I TRY to just do my own thing. I have given into outside pressure before and changed my story to please someone else. But it usually isn't better, just different.

I'd rather it all sounded like me.

Jody Hedlund said...

Hi Susan,
We do have to conform to some degree, especially if we want to break in. I've learned a lot about that over the past year. Once we have an established readership, then I think perhaps we'll have more freedom to explore with our writing. But if we're serious about publication, then we have to find a way to write what we want within the boundaries.

Melanie's Randomness said...

I remember back in high school I didn't do that good in English class when it came to writing papers. I tried & tried but I never got a good grade. I then one day wrote a paper to a standard that I knew my teacher would like because it was her idea not mine. I got an A. I was mad cuz I felt disappointed that she always turned down my papers that had my original thoughts. But I just realized she was a very closed-minded person. If you conform to the industry then nothing new will happen & your dreams & thoughts won't be heard. You need that passion of orginality or else what's the point? ya know? =)

Oh drill team. I remember those days. I wish I could wear heels but my arches are too high so they kill me. I am devoted to me flats. =)

Laura Pauling said...

I love writing something I'm on fire about and bringing my own creative style to it. And for the first time, with the story I'm finishing, I love the character and the voice. That is what would be heartbreaking to change. I love the plot, but I'd be willing to change if a professional thought it would work better. I guess every wip is different. I don't think writing to break in is sacrificing art. For me, it pushes me to write better, be more artistic, and write out of my safety zone. But I'm sure it's different for everyone.

Dara said...

I agree with you--follow your heart. I understand altering certain aspects of the storyline but not completely changing it.

Anyway, I don't wear heels much. I'm average height--five foot five--but there are still plenty of instances where I feel short. I wonder that society caters to taller individuals? Honestly I don't know many women much taller than myself yet so many things seem to be tailored for the taller ones.

Mrsblogalot said...

What do I think? Well first, I think your writing comes across as tall as the trees.

Secondly, I couldn't agree more with you on following your heart. I would not know how to compromise a post if you paid me-which is proably why I will never get paid for one(-: But the joy I get from doing it my way fills me in a way an overflowing wallet never could (-:

L. T. Host said...

Yikes! I have a bad knee, so heels spell disaster for me, whether for a few minutes or... yeah, I can't even imagine eight hours without a bad knee.

My mood shifts from day to day whether I conform or rebel when I'm writing. I don't really have an accurate response, I guess.

Erica said...

I like to wear wedges, that way I get the height without sacrificing comfort. It's a happy medium - just like I'd want my story to be.

There are parts of my stories that I would change if asked - my heart's not attached - but there are parts I may have to fight for - depends :o) Good post!

Bane of Anubis said...

Good post -- to an extent, we must conform to be successful, unless we're heiresses or extremely lucky. Guess it comes down to how much do you wanna sell your soul ;)

Leah Rubin said...

I'd say you've got it totally right-- some things are worth fighting for, some are not.

I myself used to be a remarkably statuesque 5' 2 3/4", but age is shrinking that. You'd be surprised (well, no-- maybe you wouldn't) to see the number of stepstools I keep around the house. The Hub is 6'4", and he laughs at me. Might I recommend a long tongs for certain items on high shelves? (Like a box of tea bags-- not so much for a Dutch oven.)

I had to give up heels totally after I ruptured a disk in my back some years ago. Lord I miss my heels!

Solvang Sherrie said...

I have to follow my heart and write what interests me. I can't even read a vampire book, let alone write one!

Patti said...

I just said to my husband on Sunday that I was glad I was 5"8 so I didn't have to ever wear heels.

I agree that you need to follow your instincts and what you want from your writing.

Dominique said...

I'd say making changes is kind of like exercising. If it isn't too painful, then remember that it's good for you and get through it. If it's really painful, then you shouldn't be trying that. Stop, step back, and try something you're more ready for.

Robyn Campbell said...

There are things I will not write. But then I too have changed parts of my writing to satisfy the industry.

It's a fine line, isn't it? I try to write the way I think something should be written, but in the end, I realize that becoming published is my ultimate goal. So I revise to meet a publisher half way, so to speak.

Love those heels btw. I use to wear shoes with heels almost that long. Crazy wasn't I? At least the next weekend you were more comfortable, Susan. And no one can put a price on comfort to me these days.

I used to dress up to take Christopher to the hospital. NO MORE. I wear sweats. The four hour drive one way and all day being uncomfortable taught me that sweats were definitely the way to go. :-)

laurel said...

I agree with folks who've said whe should stick to stories and characters we can write about with passion, rather than trend-chase. But we need to be aware of what's out there so that our work doesn't seem a pale shadow of someone else's. There's also a danger that "follow your heart" can lead us to break the wrong rules and stubbornly resist digging into the hard work of craft. The best innovation happens within form, as any jazz musician will tell you.

Rae said...

At 5'10" by the age of 12 I worried about being too tall. Heels were never an option for me. Back when I grew up it was very uncommon for girls to be so tall. My height certainly affected my personality and influenced much of who I am today. Being too tall can be as much a problem as being too short.

Alice in Wonderland said...

I'm 5'2" and I'm quite happy to wear either high heels or flats. It depends on whatever it is I am doing at the time. I can't drive wearing heel, so I keep a pair of flats in my car, but comfort always comes first!
As for anything else, well, I'm really shy by nature, although I wish that I weren't! How I would love to say what I mean, if that makes any sense!
Anyway, I just love your writing and I was always told to write about what you know and not try to make things up as you go along, because someone will point out your mistakes.
I agree on the theory of it's a fine line that you follow though, and there is just some things that I wouldn't write either.

Cindy said...

I definitely think it's important to follow your heart. If you're having to conform and it feels wrong then it's not worth it. However, I do believe we have to broaden our minds and take chances and be willing to try something new within the boundaries of our beliefs or we might not be able to break into or thrive in a particular career.

Carolyn V. said...

I agree, follow your heart. It will lead you where you want to go.

Jennifer Shirk said...

Yeah, you have to follow your heart. That's where your "voice" is really going to shine anyway.

Jill Kemerer said...

I come from a short family. My grandparents had to put pillows in their car to see over the wheel! Feeling your pain...

strugglingwriter said...

"How important is it to conform to industry preferences when we are writing?"

It's probably very important, but it's impossible to write that way. I think if you try to write like "they" want you to write it will show and that's not good.

Paul

Sarah Simas said...

Oh, what a sassy shoe!

Almost all the mainstream authors I've interviewed pretty much say the same thing about writing toward industry standards- don't. (of course, they have the luxury of saying so- they're already "in the club" lol) Writing outside the norm is a gamble, especially if unpubbed. It could pay off and it might not. I guess we just have to follow our instincts.

Keep The Faith, Love the Craft,
Sarah
ps- I'm on the short side, too. Thank goodness I married a giant. lol He can get the stuff from the top shelf. *wink wink*

Michelle Gregory said...

frankly, i think it's sad that we have to conform at all. good stories should sell. bad stories shouldn't. if your story is the best it can be and they still don't like it, it's their loss, as well as the public's loss. too bad it doesn't work that way. there's no accounting for the everchanging whims of readers.

Tabitha Bird said...

I love that you are opening this up for discussion. I feel really strongly about writing what is in your heart. I just don't understand those who study trends and rules and then write everything according to it. Where is the you in the writing if in fact the writing is geared for everyone but you? Reading is personal taste. It stands to reason that so is writing. I say write what you love and make it the best it can be. :)

Heather Sunseri said...

Breaking in is so hard. Unfortunately, I think we have to be very careful breaking too many rules as we try to capture the attention of those in the industry. But at the same time we can never stop listening to our hearts. Great topic of conversation, Susan!

B.J. Anderson said...

I totally agree with you. Sometimes you have to change even if it's a bit uncomfortable. Great topic! ;)

Elana Johnson said...

I think, for me, there's a very distinctive line in the sand. And I'll go right up to it, but I won't cross it. No, not ever. Market or not. And each step from where I am to the line is uncomfortable, but like I said, I'll go right up to it.

Angie Muresan said...

I am very tall, and it isn't much fun either. I like wearing heels, but not towering over everyone. It sucks trying to fit the norms, doesn't it? I write what I like. My stories are first for myself.

Belle said...

I love wearing heels, but they have to be comfortable. I'm glad they now make heels that look nice and are comfortable too! About the writing, I think that there's always a new trend coming up right around the corner, so there's always the chance that the next trend is going to start with my novel! But I agree, too, that flexibility is important, so as long as I'm not sacrificing my core story, change is fine by me.

Diane said...

I agree with you, follow your heart and what you love. Always seems to work out best. :O)

www.dianeestrella.com

Kristen Torres-Toro said...

I think you're superwoman for wearing heels every day! I tried wearing jeans today and gave up... too uncomfortable for me. I like my skirts, shorts, and sweats. :0)

Hmm... I want to be me. I want to be published. Most of all, I want to be published as me. :0)

Terri Tiffany said...

My mother never taught me how to really walk in heels! LOL So I wear short ones but wish too for longer legs:)
As to writing, I know I have had to conform on many aspects to get published, but not on the big things. I write from my heart, then edit it as needed.

Lily Robinson said...

There are times I worry about if there is a market for the stories I want to tell. If not, then I'll write for myself. I don't want to conform so far that it takes the joy away. As long as I can tell my story, I'll change what I have to change to make it work.

jenheadjen said...

Ohmygosh! I'm 5" too, and it's so true! People seem to think I'm too young to have kids. Granted, I probably have a baby face, but I have to think my height has something to do with the "kid factor". Add a prego belly in there and I can't hardly even wash my hands at the sink!

Anyway, I think you're right in sticking to your heart. Like your height, it is who you are, and changing to suit the industry will never release the passion to the world for it to come back as blessings. Who you are is a gift to those around you, so in my opinion, your writing is the same. (Still eager to read this book...:)