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I think Dave Sim is a bastard. An accomplished bastard, to be certain, but a bastard nevertheless.

During his 300-issue run on his independent (that’s self-published, to the literary crowd) comic book Cerebus, he used the titular character as an outlet to complain about many grievances he had about the world, most notably the role of women in it. Sim was not a happy guy when it came to women, during this time, and he made no secret about it. Of course, he was going through an ugly divorce from his wife, so it’s somewhat understandable. It doesn’t really excuse the way he took a dump on women in general in his book, but I suppose he had his reasons.

Still, despite his somewhat misogynistic words, I still find – even to this day – that I have to admire the guy. Why? Because he wrote what he wanted.

There’s a lesson in there, right? I mean, I may not agree with his perspective, but he wrote the story he wanted to write, and if readers didn’t like it, that was their fault. It reminds me of a response another writer (Rick Remender) gave to a fan, who’d written an opinion letter saying that Remender was not writing a beloved character the way that the fan thought he should be written. I’m going to paraphrase Remender’s response to this, but it was, essentially:

I am writing this story. Not you. So shut up.

Man, that response gives me wonderful chills every time I think of it. I’m going to write it again just for that reason.

I am writing this story. Not you. So shut up.

I read a lot of articles and blog posts and comments from, about, and to writers, many of whom seem to be slogging through the same drama I am: writing a novel, which we hope we can sell, of course, but that’s not all there is to it.

Many of us are in love with our stories. I know I am. But, like love for anything, there comes with it a deep sense of trepidation. Are we doing what’s best? Are we doing it right? Are we going to be hurt when we put this out there for everyone to see? The answers, of course, are yes, yes, and – sadly – yes. But I think that we can take a lesson from the bastards out there.

We should tell the stories we want to tell. We should tell these stories the way that we want to tell them. And if someone out there doesn’t like the story, that’s their problem.

Of course, there is value in writing for your audience. And we can’t all be Dave Sim or Rick Remender, able to write whatever in Hell we choose because people will buy the work regardless due to brand loyalty or whatever.

But, for pity’s sake, love your story. Have faith in your story. If you don’t love it first, if you don’t have faith in it first, who do you think is going to follow after you?


The video above is of the Muppet performers singing “Just One Person”, from Snoopy! The Musical, at Jim Henson’s memorial service. If you can watch it and listen to those words without tearing up at least a little bit, I don’t think I want your support.

No matter what you create, you owe it to yourself to trust in your own vision. Be willing to take advice and criticism, and be willing to listen to other people who have the good of your story at heart, even if the words they have to say may be harsh to your ears. But always remember that this is your work. And if you don’t love it first…well, no one else will.