Sunday, November 6, 2016

Thoughts on Writing (21 - 25)

21. We are all magpies. We are all going to pick up bits of flotsam and jetsam from the cultural void around us. Part of the value of having people edit you is the outside perspective they provide. If I tried to write a book that was a climactic clash of good versus evil following a slatewiper pandemic, there are people who would point out its similarity to The Stand before I managed to hurt myself, and that's gooooooooooood.

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22. Your writing style will actually change over the course of a single day, not just over the course of your lifetime. I write very crisp, sharp prose in the morning, and very purple, rambling prose at midnight. My sentences start turning into spaghetti around ten o'clock at night. A finished work is going to need to stick to one of these styles of prose, and I need to be aware of that when I'm editing, because otherwise, the transition can be so organic that it isn't visible until someone else gets a look and starts screaming at me for blinding them with adjectives.

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23. For the sweet love of all that is holy, edit, proofread, revise, and practice the art of self-critique. I mean it. There is no one on this planet so good at this game that they can just throw a fistful of words at the page and declare it brilliant. Needing to revise does not make you a failure, and becoming a better writer isn't going to take that need away. Embrace the revision process as a chance to dig down into the heart of your text and make it everything that it deserves to be.

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24. Anyone who tells you that your first draft is brilliant, perfect poetry and deserves to be published just as it is and you shouldn't change a word and oh, you're going to be famous and make enough money to buy a desert island is either a) lying, b) delusional, or c) your mother.

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25. If you're going to be a writer, you'll be a writer, because if you're going to be a writer, you'll write. This is not a glamorous profession. This is not something people do because they want to be rich and famous and sleep with Hollywood stars. This is something people do because, at the end of the day, they can't not do it. People decide to be writers for a lot of reasons. People continue to be writers because they can't figure out how the hell to quit. Writing is bibliophile heroin, and we're all addicts over here.

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