Pierce Brown is the New York Times bestselling author of The Red Rising Trilogy. The series is a science fiction epic set on Mars, and has been compared to The Hunger Games and Game of Thrones series. Don’t miss your chance to ask Pierce Brown a question on his Figment chat on March 9th.
Only one person has ever read the greatest work of fiction. Probably. Maybe. Well, at least that’s the argument I make to my friends. See, I think there’s a book out there, maybe a couple dozen, maybe a hundred, that would put most others to shame; but instead it’s moldering in some desk drawer, or dead and forgotten in some digital crevice. Not because it deserves to be, but because its writer lost confidence.
Writing is wonderful. You agree; you’re here on the Daily Fig.
Writing opens up the child in me, and makes me feel as if there’s a purpose to all this world’s loopy logic. I remember perfectly the first time I put pen to paper in my parent’s house in Dallas, Texas, and realized I could summon mountains and castles and magic from ink. My enthusiasm was blind, willfully ignorant, but dammit did I pour myself onto the page. Soon the story was done. And then…nothing. It was like I had a secret to share, but no one would listen, and those who did wouldn’t believe me.
You see, writing is also a bastard. For most of the process there’s a crippling lack of validation. No signposts to say you’re on the right path. No coach to slap your butt and say “attaboy.” You think that if you can only finish, then there’s a carrot waiting for you at the end. Not so much. You might have a few friends to read your book, maybe your parents, but can you trust their opinions? Do they even read the genre you write? And if they do, are they sugarcoating their thoughts?
In the end, it doesn’t matter if you are given validation along the way or if you get it at the end or if you get it at all. What matters is that you believe in your story. Even if you wrote it in a fever dream and now, looking at it in the sober light of day, are horrified at the clumsy prose, the hackneyed plot twist, you wrote it. It’s part of your soul. So don’t become discouraged by the outcome. Learn. Practice. Write another story.
I wrote six books before I wrote the one that would land me an agent (who was the 131st to receive my submission, by the way), a three book publishing deal in 28 countries, and spots on any bestseller lists. The six books were spectacular only in how poorly they were written. But I learned from them, and I kept writing and I kept getting better.
If I can flex my hubris enough to assume I’ve got any advice to give, it’s not about how to construct characters or how to craft a tight second act, it would be this: Never stop writing, and never be embarrassed by your writing. If you have a work you haven’t sent out to agents, take a look at the query process and see how you can get started. If you’ve already been rejected, polish your keyboard and begin a new tale. But please, for the love of humanity, never stop. We need your stories.
Pierce Brown is the New York Times bestselling author of Red Rising and Golden Son. While trying to make it as a writer, Brown worked as a manager of social media at a startup tech company, toiled as a peon on the Disney lot at ABC Studios, did his time as an NBC page, and gave sleep deprivation a new meaning during his stint as an aide on a U.S. Senate campaign. He lives in Los Angeles, where he is at work on his next novel.