Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Five Favorite Writing Quotes

5. “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” –Ernest Hemingway

This is a great quote for those days when writing feels hard and, because it feels hard, you start to question the entire edifice. Maybe you aren’t meant to be a writer, if writing is hard for you. Writing is easy for good writers, right? Well, some people think Mr. Hemingway was a pretty good writer…

I don’t think writing has to be a masochistic exercise of bleeding all over typewriter (or Scrivener, or whatever), but if it is, that is not unusual. It’s not the end of the world. It’s a normal feeling for writers of every skill level. So open up that vein, but don’t quit!

4. “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” –Stephen King

I know, I know. The last thing you need is another thing to fail at, another area where you aren’t doing what you need to. But sorry, I am going with Mr. King on this one. Reading is so integral to writing. It’s important on the business side. You need to know where your book fits into the market in order to pitch it, to market it, to sell it. And so you need to know the market, which is just a fancy way of saying read! But it’s also important on the craft side. Reading is some of the best writing education you can give yourself, especially critical reading. Look at how other authors create tension or dialogue that sparks right off the page. Look at how other authors make you check to see if the book is ever going to end and skim yet another section. Learn what you love and what you don’t. And for me, reading is the ultimate form of inspiration. Reading a good book makes my inner writer yearn to be set free and create. It replenishes the wells of creativity that I drain during writing.

3. “We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.” –Ernest Hemingway

I am a perfectionist. That isn’t always a bad thing. Striving for perfection can be a way to rise to the next level, to overcome obstacles. But for my own mental health, I have to remember that perfection is an illusion. There is always something else to learn, always some way that I could be better. I am still an apprentice. But! So is everyone else. We are all apprentices. There is no need to castigate myself for failure to achieve mastery, because that is impossible. I will keep learning, I will keep striving, and I will take pleasure in the process, not despair.

2. “You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” –Ray Bradbury

Oh, this one. Cuts me right to the core with its truthiness. Writing as an industry is so, so hard. I’ve written for my entire life, and so far I don’t have much to show for it besides a pile of unpublished manuscripts. Querying is the epitome of soul-sucking. You have to find that inner source of joy, the intoxication of writing. Otherwise there are too many opportunities to give up. Too many ways to realize that the odds are very much against you. But writing is always there. It is always available to you. You are a writer, and you write, and that in itself must be enough to carry you through all the times (the many, many times) when everything else is going against you and your writing.

1. “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” –Dr. Seuss (or maybe Bernard Baruch?)

This isn’t necessarily a writing quote so much as it is a life quote. And it’s one that has resonated with me since the first time I heard it. I’ll be honest—I’m a bit of a strange duck. And I have social anxiety, so getting along with other people can feel like a monumental task. But when I’m getting down on myself for being awkward or weird or whatever, I just have to remember that those who truly care don’t care!

But beyond that, it is a writing quote too. It can be so easy to get caught up in the paralysis of what other people will think about your writing. Whether you are going to offend someone you care about it. If agents and editors will laugh at the premise before they even finish hearing your pitch. Whether it will be received well by readers. And I’m not saying that you shouldn’t consider the impact of your work and take that into account, but at the end of the day, if it’s something you need to write, then write it. Don’t let the paralysis win.

And if you want to hear me talk about all of this as well, today's post is also a video! It's two-for-one writing quote happiness!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Guilty Pleasures

As they like to say in my industry, I am going to put the bottom line up front: life is too short to feel guilty about enjoying things!

Yes, that is my take on guilty pleasures. We waste way too much time, energy, and effort on chastising ourselves or judging ourselves about the merits of what we enjoy. The only reason you should feel guilty about enjoying something is if it’s causing harm to someone else. If beating someone up is your guilty pleasure, then yes, you fucking well should feel guilty about it (also: stop doing that, and get some counseling!). Otherwise, please, just enjoy what you enjoy!

Is the prose in that book you’re devouring somewhat less than pristine? Who cares! It’s brought you hours of joy, swept you away from the dull pedestrianism of your daily life. Stop judging yourself for it! Is the acting in that series you’re glued to melodramatic? Who cares! Watching that with your SO next to you and a good glass of wine is the highlight of your week. Is the genre that you prefer looked down upon by those who “know better”? Yep, you guessed it—who cares! It’s what feels right and true for you.

So when people ask me what my guilty pleasures are, I shake my head. I know what they mean, that I ought to have reservations about the bodice ripper on my nightstand or the stash of chocolate in my desk, but I don’t. This life of mine is the only one I’ve got. My days and hours are limited, and the time I get to spend doing things for fun even more so. And so I shall continue to enjoy the things I enjoy without apology, without qualification, and most definitely without guilt.

Yeah, I had so much fucking fun, look elsewhere for apologies!