A Writer’s Quote Series: Episode Two
As well as entertaining readers for over half a century, Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie, Lady Mallowan, DBE has encouraged many writers by giving them insight into her writing life. This quote by hers is one I think writers should refer to often, notably when speaking or consulting with other writers:
“Your criticism is bound to be that you yourself would have written it in such and such a way, but that does not mean that it would be right for another author. We all have our own ways of expressing ourselves.”
I like this quote, especially since I have recently been on the receiving end of beta feedback and am about to do some beta reading for two author friends myself. I like that Christie stresses the existence and importance of individual articulation.
This quote reminds me that all authors have a unique voice that has been formed by years of ideas, memories, tragedies, victories, embarrassments, joys, and frustrations. And just because another writer may express something differently from how I would express it does not make their writing less valid.
It’s tempting to get wrapped up in another writer’s project and start thinking about how you would approach the writing and telling of that story, but that doesn’t help the other writer and pulls you away from your own work. You should be working on your own stories, right?
As a “critic” of another’s work, it is not our job to rewrite another writers manuscript; our job is to help them see where their thoughts may not be clear and where a reader might be confused. The words a writer chooses to express those thoughts is their business, though, not ours.
Writers have a wonderful opportunity to help other writers on their journey, not by telling them how a scene should be written, but by letting them know if the scene worked for you as a reader. That’s all. Let them figure out how to fix it; it’s their job.
I’d love to know what this Agatha Christie quote means to you, so leave me a comment below!
And you can catch up on the first episode of my Writer’s Quote Series, A Quote by Stephen King and Why I Like It, HERE!
K. Kris Loomis is the author of the new nonfiction book, Surviving Revision: How One Writer Finished What She Started. She has also written several books on yoga and meditation, as well as a travel memoir about the time she, her husband, and their handicapped cat moved to Ecuador.
When Kris isn’t writing at her standing desk, she can be found playing chess, folding an origami crane, or practicing a Bach French Suite on the piano. She lives in Rock Hill, SC with her husband and two cats.