Monday, December 1, 2014

Writing 101: Easy For You to Say...

Do any serious reading on Twitter at all, and at some point (probably within 10 minutes) you're going to find some trite little piece of advice from some famous writer. Mark Twain doesn't want you to use the word "very," Salinger can't stand the semicolon, so-and-so wants you to be descriptive. And on and on and on it goes. I hate reading these little bon mots -- hate it. Every time I see some little gem of wisdom from some well-known author, I always have the same thought: easy for you to say


Excuse Me While I Roll My Eyes

I used to read author origin stories. Meaning, I would hunt down various interviews so I could see actual quotes of how they got started as authors. I actually spent time doing this. And without fail, it made me angry every single time. That's why I have no patience for all the little bits of wisdom floating around on Twitter now. I've read all that advice, and I know a lot of the back stories. I've heard what authors had to say about writing in their own words. And you know what? I'm not them. Neither are you. That's why all that wisdom floating around is really just a bunch of white noise. 


All that advice out there is really just a waste of time. It's not doing you any good, just like me and my weird biography pursuits of days gone by.  Truman Capote, author of such classics as "Breakfast at Tiffany's" and "In Cold Blood," wrote completely prone. He had to lay down to write. Other writers have to wear bath robes, or lock themselves in attics, and do all sorts of weird stuff just to get it done. 

I've tried writing while laying down, and it doesn't work for me. I'm not going to write while drinking Scotch, like Hemingway, and no way in hell am I going out to Alaska or wherever like Jack London did. I'm no Mark Twain. I've never in my life worn a linen suit, and I can guarantee you it isn't going to happen any time soon. So all his advice about using the word very might not apply to me, either.

You aren't like any other writer and I'm not, either. So no matter how much information you absorb about other writers, it isn't going to make you more like another writer. Nor should you want to be. Don't worry about writing like them. Write like you. Because the one thing I did learn from my former biography obsession is this: every single one of those authors had a completely different story to tell. That tells you everything you need to know right there.

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