Never Let Anyone Tell You–“You Can’t Write That!”

Lorie HamLorie Lewis Ham has been publishing her writing since the age of 13 & singing since the age of 5. She worked for her local newspaper off and on for years, and in 2010 became the editor-in-chief and publisher of Kings River Life Magazine http://KingsRiverLife.com. She has also published 5 mystery novels–you can learn more about her mystery writing on her blog http://mysteryratscloset.blogspot.com/.

Has anyone ever told you that you couldn’t write something? Either because no one would read it, or no one would believe it, or maybe they just don’t like it? Well, I recommend giving that comment serious thought before you listen to someone telling you that. What is their motive? Do they have a clue what they are talking about? Do you actually give a damn what they think?

If there is something that you want to write, I say write it. Now if your entire motive is to get rich and famous–well let’s get real, you wouldn’t be a writer anyway. Unless it is something that will hurt someone else, or is slanderous, I think we should write what we are driven to write. You may find there actually are people who want to read it–even if those readers aren’t found in a traditional medium, or there aren’t a lot of them. If someone reads what you write and enjoys it, or is inspired by it, or moved to change the world by it–does it really matter how many people read it? It has still had a purpose. Or sometimes we just write something because we need to write it, or even have to write it.

I can provide a couple of examples in my own life. My mystery book series features a gospel singing amateur sleuth. It is a world I know well from having been a gospel singer since the age of 12. I sent the first few chapters of my first book, Murder in Four Part Harmony to a contest. Their criticism was no one in gospel music is really like that! I laughed–I’d even tamed things down from the real world. Later when the first book came out, someone within the gospel music industry was very upset about the book and would have preferred I didn’t write it, because it was the truth. I ended up writing four books in that series and they sold very well at my concerts surprisingly enough. The latest and final one is still available on Amazon–The Final Note.

Pencil With Books CartoonSix years ago, I was on staff at a local newspaper. I spent two years there being told by my editor, “You can’t write that. No one will read it.” When I was let go over creative differences, I decided to do something almost on a whim–I created an online magazine made up of all the things my editor said no one would read! I really just thought it would be fun–little did I know what it would become.

Kings River Life Magazine is celebrating its fifth anniversary this month! And we’ve grown way beyond the regional magazine we started out as (we are based in the Fresno, CA area). We still cover all the things my editor said no one would read, and then some. One of those things were pet articles–now our pet section is one of our strongest sections with readers all over the world! While we are still about half regional–covering theatre, music, local history, food, and events–we are about half not. Not only do most of our pet articles have a wide interest, we also have a very strong mystery section, with a little fantasy thrown in. Every Saturday morning we post a new issue. We have mystery book reviews and giveaways, mystery TV reviews, mystery short stories, and a lot of fun mystery articles.

We have some special extra contests this month for our anniversary–so I hope you come check us out http://KingsRiverLife.com.

And now back to your writing–what have you not been writing because someone didn’t want you to, or thought you shouldn’t? Why not give it some real thought before tossing it aside–you never know what may come of it!

Lorie Ham Kings River Life Logo

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31 thoughts on “Never Let Anyone Tell You–“You Can’t Write That!”

  1. Lori, its been a long time since we both were starting out, trying to sell our mysteries in a few book stores in the valley. I think your magazine is awesome and applaud what you’ve done. Great post, your absolutely right, and I look forward to hearing from you again.

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  2. Well said and right on, Lorie. Rick Nelson said it best in “Garden Party” — You can’t please everyone so you have to please yourself. I love KRL and look forward to it every week.

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  3. Lori, you are right on! It’s a subjective call about what people will read, like and remember. I remember William Kent Krueger saying his publisher and editor discouraged him from writing Ordinary Grace. After all, he was known for his mystery series. He insisted it was the story he wanted to tell. You know the rest: the book won several major awards.
    I admire your courage, perseverance and success with KRL. You go, girl!

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  4. Lorie, I admire anyone who continues to persist in the face of negativity. You do so much to promote mystery authors and we appreciate all the time and effort you’ve put into your very successful magazine. Keep up the great work!

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  5. I love KRL and I loved Four Part Harmony—knowing nothing about the world of gospel singing I can’t comment on how realistic it is! The comments I get on my work are so varied and it’s futile to try to please everyone. Someone told me to write for the readers who like my work, not for those who don’t.

    Thanks for all your great work.

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  6. You can please some of the people some of the time. . .Being a people pleaser means writing to their tastes and sales, not to your muse. My father once said my murderous stories were encouraging homicide in Fresno. Uh, no. The city does that on its own. I simply use it as fodder!

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  7. Writing what you want to write is the best advice anyone can give a beginning writer. When I started out in mystery fiction lots of people felt free to tell me what I should and shouldn’t be writing. Kind of surprising when you think about it. Thanks for posting this, and for KRL.

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  8. It’s nice to hear the personal story about how businesses and magazines came into being. I’ve only been reading the magazine for about a year, but find myself clicking on it at least once a week. I keep running into people I know too. I used to live in the Central Valley of California and recognize some of the locals. But you have books by authors all over the United States. I was shocked to find a short story from a friend of mine here, where I live, in Nashville, TN. I’d critiqued the story in a writing group here not long before I saw it published in your magazine. I enjoy the variety of blogs you offer too.

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  9. I agree with Karen–interesting to know what gave rise to KRL–a fabulous on-line magazine. Thanks for moving forward in the face of negativity!

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  10. Thank you Lelia for hosting Lorie’s article – I quite enjoyed hearing of the success she has had in publishing the things that “speak” to her. I also thought the comments on looking for interested readers in non-mainstream areas was a great idea. Thanks Lorie for the encouragement – and thanks Lelia for the great choice of a guest post. 🙂

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