And the baby bear’s bed was just right.
This past weekend, Bob and I went shopping for a new mattress. I felt like Goldilocks, moving from mattress to mattress, looking for the one that felt just right.
There were probably 30-40 styles of mattress in that store. Not only that but many of them could be purchased with a frame that let you raise and lower the head and foot of the bed, could vibrate the mattress for a massage effect, and even provide USB ports if you wanted to work on your laptop or tablet from your bed. The choices were almost too much.
Bob and I finally decided on one that we thought would work best for both him as a back sleeper and me as a side sleeper. We found the mattress that is just right for us.
As I looked around the store while Bob filled out the paperwork for our purchase, it occurred to me that like cars and mattresses, our purchase did not reflect the quality of the mattress as much as it reflected Bob’s and my personal “just right”.
The same is true for you as a writer.
If you’ve built your book or story well, then acceptance of your manuscript by agent or editor, and purchase of your book by a reader, has more to do with fit and that “just right” than with you as a writer.
Your story, your book, whatever it is about, is not going to be a good fit for everyone. You can’t write a book for everyone. No one can. Even best-selling authors like Stephen King, Nora Roberts, Wayne Dyer, and Elizabeth Gilbert don’t sell books to everyone.
And you’ve heard all the stories about how many rejections J.K. Rowling received before she finally found an agent to represent her.
It’s usually not about your writing or your story. It’s about that “just right” fit.
Agents and editors have to have a story they enjoy enough to really get behind in today’s market. They have to feel passionate enough about it to get behind it and push. It has to be a “just right” fit for that agent or editor.
Even if you self-publish, you have to find the readers, the market, with that “just right” fit for the book you’ve written. I’m generally not going to buy a horror book. I don’t like horror—in print, or on screen—because I can’t stand that kind of tension. You may not like romance or fantasy. I’m not going to take it personally because you need your just right fit as much as I do.
You also need to find your just right fit the story you write. Write a story you can feel passionate about. One that keeps you awake at night or has you stepping back in fear that you can’t tell it well enough. Write a story that you sometimes have to force yourself to stay with because it pulls something from you that feels deep and powerful and important.
Write the story that as you write, “The End”, you give that sigh of relief, yes, but also that sigh of satisfaction and a sense of pride. The story that feels “just right.”
Everyone has her just right. What is yours?