The real you.
A shit ton easier said than done! Because for most of us, that thing, it's a moving target. Who I am today, isn't who I was ten years ago, a year ago, or yesterday for that matter. I'm shaped by the world I live in, the political climate, the literal climate, my socioeconomic status, the people in my life, my faith or lack of faith. Ten thousand different things make me-- ME. And ten thousand different things make you-- YOU.
As a writer, you are faced with meeting the needs and demands of literally everyone around you. Your audience, your agent, your editors, your publisher, the press, your fucking cat! The list can feel endless and daunting. And it seems like it's forever changing-- just like your life. But, at some point during all of the mayhem that is your writing career, you will figure out yourself as a writer. You'll find your voice and the strength to write what you want to write-- no matter what your critics might say (or not say).
"We live in an instant world. A place where feedback comes at us at lightening speed, whether we want it or not. You post, you get a like. You upload, you get a view. But writing fiction isn't social media. We don't always get instant feedback."
Writing is an emotional, needy, gut wrenching journey into the unknown. It's also funny, sad and sometimes twisted. And just because you don't get the reaction you want today, doesn't mean you won't get it from a reader or an agent or a publisher next month, or next year or in fifty years from now!
Look at Sylvia Plath or Emily Dickinson or Stieg Larrson. Not that I'm saying you have to die before your work is acknowledged by the masses. I want you to find your fans. I want you to hit it big! I thank the universe everyday for the success of hard working writers like yourself. (Thanks for the shout back).
Writing your masterpiece will take a long time. Or maybe you'll do it in a week. I dunno-- I'm not an expert! I'll tell you what though-- the world is spinning faster and faster, shaping and changing who you are and what your voice sounds like. And that is A-O-K. Just don't give up, keep going. Keep believing. Because you, the real you is in there.
What gives your story life is YOU. It's how you deliver your message through your characters. They might look like you, they might not. They might be your age, or not. They could be animals or aliens or fairies. They can be whoever you want them to be. Their journey, their message is YOUR journey, YOUR message.
And guess what? The story you have to tell-- it's real, authentic, original.