My birthday is in 4 days.
I guess you could say I’m not content to turn 28, despite what some people have told me about my accomplishments thus far.
Someone once said to cherish every step of your creative journey.
The Buddha compared the the life of a human to a river.
Whether by climbing or by current, life keeps moving and changing.
Let me tell you something I’ve discovered about myself in relation to something that once obsessed me. In fact, I tend to discover this eventually about everything that obsesses me eventually.
Let me tell you, I tend to realize, after far too much investment of time and energy into an activity, that the premise I approached the actions I took under was completely false.
It happened to me with tabletop war games like Warhammer 40,000. I played for years, invested a good chunk of my limited time and resources. I figured out how broken the game was after years spent on it.
The digital card game Hearthstone recently met this realization. I haven’t played it since.
One addiction. Yes, I might call these addictions, I desperately need to kick is my old habit of listening to advice shows by other writers. Mostly these take the form of podcasts, and I have been listening to them religiously for over 14 years.
While I have removed the ones I feel are most egregious from my diet, I know (And my brother has often told me) they aren’t worth hanging onto.
Over fourteen years of listening, the advice podcasts, even when they don’t sound repetitive, often simply make me feel uncertain about what I already learned. I’ve kept searching for some means of ‘fixing’ my writing, my style, my characterization… The list goes on, but I won’t bore you with that.
I’ve been realizing, and I use the word ‘realizing’ because I think I already knew this on some level, the amount of pain that comes from rejecting what you love in favor of what someone else has told you is necessary to be loved.
While there are characters in fiction I enjoy reading about, I’m ready to disagree with the idea that only people matter to readers.
I’m a reader, and knowledge of these characters often does not appeal to me as much as the worlds they live in.
While I can rail against stories and their tellers for not abiding by doctrine of character and conflict, I’ve always been a liar when I did. Self-hating world-builder. Self-loathing designer.
I’m not an actor, not a performer when it comes to wearing the minds of my characters.
I want to write what I love.
When I was an English Major I tried to write a book that would please both me and my professors. Foolishness, for sure, I see clearly in hindsight. However, just last year I tried writing books for snobby writers, people who ‘know’ the rules of storytelling. Doubly foolish I’ve been.
Eventually only one piece of writing advice remains for me to follow if I want increase my joy in what I do.
I must write. I must write what I love.
Sympathetic and well-developed characters.
None of these things are the vital component of my process.
The only piece of advice left is that most simultaneously transcendent and trite truism: Just write.
It pains me to add just after writing the previous line, even this advice could use some revision.
Or perhaps that is not the kernel of truth.
It doesn’t matter what I’ve done, or what any writer does. Someone is going to hate my work, their work, your work.
Someone already does.
I’ve met other writers eager to tear each other down. In fact, I believe most of us enter that stage, but not all get out of it.
Be wary of advice. Even this advice.
Doubt every fragment of advice, even the oldest one.
Don’t JUST write.