Why was I so upset? It's a long story and it isn't something to share here, but this, and something that my friend said reminded me of another incident that took place when I was only 11. In our conversation, Gracia suggested that if I wanted, I could write something that the majority of people would want to read, something less obscured, perhaps, if building up readership was my priority. I was thinking along the lines of romance, a genre I have not explored in a long time now. And this was how I remembered an email I had received.
For about three years from the time I was 10, my head was always buzzing with ideas for stories. I spent a lot of time working on different pieces of work simultaneously (these things never happened again by the time I entered high school because education stifles my creativity, and steals my free time, as always). I penned a complete novel and then wrote to a local children's writer, asking him what I had to do if I wanted to publish my work. He told me to send my work to his publisher, which was of no help, really, because the publisher's email was already on their company's website. (Was I thinking of pulling strings?)
So I set to work. I painstakingly typed out my novel on the computer, sealed the manuscript in a brown envelope and dropped it in the postbox, feeling extremely satisfied with myself. Look— I was only 11, I had completed my very own novel in a few months, and I had sent my work to a publisher without doubting my abilities (I do that very often now, unfortunately). A couple of weeks later, I received that email I was looking forward to. These were the words I saw:
"Your work is not commercially successful."
And that was all. YOUR WORK IS NOT COMMERCIALLY SUCCESSFUL. I was rejected. Just like that. (It felt strange to me that an adult was telling a child that her work wasn't commercial enough.) But I am thankful my work was rejected:
1) If my work had been accepted, I would have continued walking down that... shall I say, commercialised path and I believe I wouldn't be true to myself at all.
2) Why, why, WHY should I write in a certain style, or write in a particular genre just because it is popular? Writing is my passion, not my money-making machine.
3) I looked at this from a different angle and at least the publisher didn't say, "You cannot write."
4) We all learn and grow and learn, and change— I would be utterly embarrassed if I am to read what I had written about a decade ago.
To conclude, I think it is sad that when our dreams seem unattainable, we tend to forget who we are and lose ourselves in order to achieve those dreams. It isn't easy staying true to yourself when you are faced with norms and societal pressures, but I believe I will never give in and alter the way I write, or change what I love to write about, just to be accepted by most people.