Listen up, girlfriend, because I’m about to spill a writer’s most sacred secrets.
The cardinal rule of writing: and this little gem is going on my tombstone~ Fuck ’em if they can’t take a joke.
A writer’s world is personal. First and foremost. A good writer writes her truth. Her truth will resonate with a certain audience precisely because it is truth, a universal truth if you will, and her particular audience will see and feel her work for what it is. The secret to every compelling story? A kernel of truth.
Can you please all the people all the time? No. Can you please some of the people some of the time? Yes.
Rule number two: Writing is like believing in God (God is most definitely a verb.)– it is, was, and will always be a leap of faith. Scary shit, right? Do it anyway.
Rule number three: Never take advice from other writers. Except me, and even then take my advice with a grain of salt. Other writers have their own styles and their own agendas and agendas tend to rule the day. Write your story in your voice. Don’t sweat the small stuff. The small stuff is easy to clean up.
Rule number four: Writing is hard. Good writing is especially hard. A writer must do the hard thing. I’d love it if my books wrote themselves, but they don’t. The way to do this hard thing? And here’s a real piece of advice~ write in the present moment. Do not look ahead. If you consider how much you have left to write you will grow discouraged. Therefore live in denial. I repeat, do not look ahead. To paraphrase Alcoholics Anonymous – write one word at a time. In the end you will be at the end. Seriously. The End comes at The End.
Rule number five: Do not fear the story. I know… I know. A story is like Frankenstein. A serious monster. But Frankenstein lives because of us. Or, if you prefer, think of your story as The Golem. You create a man (Golem- an unshaped form) from clay and give him life or shape. How do you give him life? Well, in one version you write the word EMET, or TRUTH, on his forehead. So we’ve come full circle. Truth gives life to the otherwise unformed story.
I’ll end with the following words of wisdom~ A writer’s gotta do what a writer’s gotta do, and There’s a sucker born every minute. (Attributed to P.T. Barnum, but he didn’t really say it.)
Love you, Pens! Julia