My drug of choice is writing––writing, art, reading, inspiration, books, creativity, process, craft, blogging, grammar, linguistics, and did I mention writing?

Friday, June 7, 2019

Fortune Cookies XVII

The ability to control the narrative of how we got here, where we're going, what values are important, what ideas are ridiculous, who is evil, and who we ought to make fun of is social control the likes of which makes the Chinese algorithm system of "good citizenry rating" look like amateur hour.  
No one is ever, ever, EVER going to give you permission to be a writer. You have to give it to yourself.

More than any one thing that separates working, professional, paid, or "successful" writers from those who struggle with the frustration of not being where they want to be, it is this: the former group respects the process. They know they may have to completely change the story. They know they're going to have to get peer review. They know there will be complete rewrites and tons of revisions. They don't try to gut out one perfect draft and then fear to have it critiqued. 
Writing and storytelling are two very different things. A lot of anxiety and angst could be avoided if we gave that idea some room to breathe. The height of every ambition should not necessarily be to be a novelist. 

We've all picked a dream and an industry with a notoriously high failure rate, so when we fall flat on our faces (and we will), we better love writing for its own sake. Because little else is going to pick us up and dust us off and keep us going knowing that another ass-kicking is right around the corner.

Hiroyuki Sanada will be playing the part of your writing goals.
The resilience to criticism so many celebrities have is not a mark of their cynicism or some corruption of their humanity. Simply, it is the fact that they are targeted twenty, thirty, forty times a day or more with vitriolic projections and if they didn't have that armor, their heart would break.

If your shit gets rejected, before you have an existential crisis that you don't have what it takes or some shit, first think of all the usual suspects like (too much) length or ignored submission guidelines that have nothing to do with the quality of your writing and affect rejection/acceptance much more than prose.

Most working writers didn't get there because their schedules and the planets somehow finally aligned perfectly and afforded them the time to write. They got there because if something got in the way of their writing time, they kicked its ass.

If you're an artist who needs to ask for money (say if you're crowdfunding for your livelihood), don't mollycoddle your audience's sensibilities. Just come out, tell them you need their financial support, why, and ask for money.
No one can tell you how to "make it." The industry is changing so fast that a decade is an eternity and what worked five years ago will be less effective today. Don't be afraid to take advice but adjust it on the fly. The only basics you MUST stick to is to write a lot (and read a lot) and put your writing out there.

The best thing you can do in any negotiation for your writing/editing/artistic skills (whether you plan to give away your labor or not) is to know your value. 

No one can give you time. They can literally only ever take it because that's how time works. If you're lucky, you might have a few very understanding people around you who will make sure you are protected from others taking it or that they themselves take your time only when you have it to give, but most of the world––even most of your loved ones––will not understand this. Your writing time will not be "real" to them the way a job might be. They will act more like they interrupted you playing video games. They will call/visit/ask/goad/cajole/temp you for attention of some kind or another unless you erect flesh vaporizing laser frontiers and Aliens motion-sensor auto turrets around that time. That's on you.

Classics are usually well-written and valuable for a writer to read once in a while, but don't get too hung up on them as the end all. What makes a "real writer" is writing. 
I must have more of these amazing Fortune Cookies!

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