Thursday, August 25, 2016

Write What You Write, And Write It

According to a possibly apocryphal story, someone once asked Stephen King, "Stephen, you write so well, why do you only write that horror stuff?"
And Stephen answered, "What makes you think that I have any choice?"

Side note: Stephen King does indeed write very well.

What does this mean? It means that, if you are meant to write, your genre will choose you.

One of the saddest conversations I've ever eavesdropped on involved two wannabe writers. One said, "I want to write, but don't know what." The other answered, "Go to Barnes and Noble, see what's on the shelves, and write one of those." The response? "Hey! Good idea!" and they parted with an air of contentment that they did not deserve.

There was no consideration of the fact that it takes a book several years to move from "What a good idea!" to print. In that time, the world continues to turn. What is hot today (Teenaged vampire! Dragons! Noir hard-drinking detectives!) will be soggy cold by then.

The very idea of writing what might sell - as if that's the only criteria that matters - means you are just about guaranteed to fail. Can you copy someone else's years-old idea with heat and verve and passion? Probably not.

What does this really mean, then? It means write what you want to, need to, can't help but write. It's not popular? Your writing support group will poo-poo it? Your mother will disapprove?

Fuck popular. Every new idea isn't popular...until it suddenly is.
Find a better writing group.
Smile and nod to your mother, then do exactly as you please. After all, you did that as a teenager; you still can.

Need a further kick in the pants?  Read this.
Then read this

Then get to work. The damned thing isn't going to write itself.

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