By Kathleen Bradean
I was thrilled when I saw this week's topic. What advice helped us as writers and do we pay it forward? Do we have an obligation to help? Is there such a thing as giving away too many secrets?
Writers will often tell new writers that the only way to improve is to sit down and write. That's the big secret. I've given it away. Every other writer has given it away. It sounds too simplistic though so it's routinely ignored. And why should you believe something like that? You just know there's a vast conspiracy to keep the real secrets from you.
Thank goodness I'm willing to share the real truth.
1) You are a special snowflake. You are a rebel special snowflake, and no rules will ever hold you down.
2) Everyone else on earth is trying to hold you down.
3) They've also conspired to make sure your work of art is never published. Really. We had a meeting. Skype makes worldwide conspiracies a breeze.
4) You have more intense feelings than any other person on earth. You feel everything so keenly that anyone who dares to suggest a single change to your deathless prose is actually attacking you as a person and they're mean, and evil, and have no taste, and they suck, and they probably wouldn't know the best story ever if it was printed on solid gold plates and titled "The Best Story, Ever."
5) The only reason anyone judges a writing contest is to steal your ideas and to make sure their friends win prizes.
6) The only reason a person becomes a literary agent is to steal your ideas and your money.
7) The only reason anyone becomes a publisher is to steal your ideas and drag your delicate artistic soul down into the scummy cesspool they live in.
8) Every other writer who has ever been published sold out and is merely a hack whilst you epitomize the height of artistic endeavor.
9) Grammar is just an excuse to be mean to you.
10) So are spelling rules.
11) Ordinary stories follow an expected arc. You write extraordinary stories and your readers will surely be grateful for the non-conformist structure.
12) If it's a real surprise twist, no one should see it coming. It should totally throw out all the rules of the world you set up before, because, it's, like, a twist!
13) You didn't rip off a highly popular novel. You improved it and made it your own. And you totally changed the character's names with different vowels and stuff. Besides, no one owns anything. Real artists share.
14) You should have been born in another century. You would have been worshiped.
15) You look fabulous in that tin foil hat.
Okay, so maybe I've had my fill of Lady ImAllMysticalAndShit types. It makes me a bit sarcastic. (A bit? Me? *gasp of astonishment* No.) Because the thing I find the most frustrating is people who say "I want to write, but..." But WHAT? A pack of roving werewolves ripped off your arms and stole your speech recognition software? That doesn’t fly, honey, because I know a writer without a hand. I know writers with dyslexia so bad they have to dictate their stories. I know writers who have suffered debilitating strokes. Guess what? They're still telling themselves stories and finding a way to communicate those tales to others, so I'm pretty sure you can too. If you truly can't, I have to see your excuse note. With video. And a copy of the police report from the werewolf attack. Because I'm pretty sure that excuse note will be the finest piece of fiction ever crafted and I do enjoy a ripping yarn. (not to be confused with a werewolf ripping off your arms yarn, although...)
Lord knows I understand writer's block. I understand periods of not writing. What I don't understand is not ever trying in the first place. Turn off your damn TV. Demand one hour a day to yourself. Trust me, no one is going to begrudge you one personal hour a day on even one a week. No one except maybe you. Stop the excuses. Stop holding yourself back. Don't have a story? Fine. Then work on a writing exercise. No time spent writing is ever wasted. Even if your computer crashes or your pad of paper bursts into flame before you can save anything, you did not waste your time, because you practiced your craft.
So, really, just write.
And take off that tin foil hat. Real writers wear berets. (Charlotte says so)