Monday, April 16, 2012

Always be Yourself

Some years back I visited the Tamastslikt Cultural Institute in Pendleton, Oregon. I have never forgotten that afternoon. The institute is one of the best Native American museums I have ever experienced. The museum (actually 3 total) spans 10,000 years of history on the Cayuse, Umatilla and Walla Walla tribes. The Living Culture Village was the most memorable, but all of the exhibits were interesting and instructive (I was a student of Native American history at the time). 

On a postcard purchased there, I was drawn to the words of Coyote, a popular mythological character in the legends of many Native American cultures. Coyote is often the playful, mischievous, trickster character in such stories, but he plays an important transformative role as well. I love the wisdom he imparts in the following:

"They call me Ispilyay.
Well we are brothers.
I am the same thing.
The people saw him,
and said, "Oh, another one!
Don't be another one.
Always be yourself."

So why is this important to me? A writer's work is scrutinized under a 'powerful microscope' before being published--by critique partners, agents, and editors, and sometimes our families and friends. I cannot help but wonder, when it is all over with, what is left of mine in the final manuscript. But of course, it is all part of the long polishing process in making one's work better. I am quite blessed to have some very adept and efficient readers who have my best interest in mind and want to see my book published. But when I get discouraged with the process, it helps to remember that I really only need to worry about one thing: being true to the story I wish to tell, which in essence means being true to myself.

Copyright 2012 © Sharon Himsl

1 comment:

  1. Hey! An update! Cool. When I took Holly Lisle's course in revision, she said to find one or two things in your manuscript that are non-negotiable. For example, if an editor wants to cut out the love interest in your romance, that would make the story collapse. It's non-negotiable.

    But apart from that, Holly said just about everything else is negotiable. Of course, we're talking at the stage where an editor has already bought your book.

    Prior to that stage, it's trickier to know how to determine what those non-negotiable things are. But I guess being true to oneself, assuming one has a vision, and knows what it means to be true to one's vision, is as good of an approach as anything.


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