There’s a lot of writing advice out there. If you’re the type of reader I am, you would have said, “no shit” after you read that sentence. However, it embarrassingly bears repeating as I still find many new writers (sometimes myself) unsure on how to move themselves with their words. I’ve observed quite a few people, and it seems now I understand what happens.
People are a variation on a theme. We have similar experiences, traits, emotions, languages, and so on. On the other hand we have different interpretations based on those experiences, traits, emotions, languages, etc. Two people could experience the same event and come away with two different thoughts. These thoughts and reactions are not to be considered infinite, as there’s a reason emotions can be displayed on a wheel, there are only so many words in the English language and languages on the planet. There will be some common ground for everyone.
However, what I find when listening to authors is advice can contradict one another. For example, let’s take quote from Anaïs Nin:
If you do not breathe through writing, if you do not cry out in writing, or sing in writing, then don’t write, because our culture has no use for it.
Now let’s sidle that up against a commencement speech with Neil Gaiman:
These paths are very different. One is that of a quasi-Quaker speaking when the spirit moves her, and the other is the that of the child constantly writing but only when it isn’t work. How does that work? Simple, it doesn’t.
What needs to happen is that the writer needs to take charge of his or her life and respond to what resonates. That requires more thought on the part of the writer, as they are the ones who know themselves better than anyone else (or so I’d hope). It’s like going to the doctor and being diagnosed with an illness you know isn’t right. Why? Because you are feeling the symptoms first hand and are asking a secondary source to tell you what is wrong. Granted, there are some very good diagnostic doctors out there, but I only have access to the budget variety. No offense, doc, but your services aren’t sterling.
This whole notion of tailoring advice reminds me of a brilliant young writer I caught on here trying to decode Ernest Hemingway. In his own right, he has made valuable contributions to literature. That’s something I acknowledge, even if I think he’s a pompous windbag. He also spoke in what I call “red herring,” a dialect Hell bent on confusing you. This is one of the reasons I severely dislike Joyce, by the way. When speaking in riddles, please don’t feed the egos. I’m convinced if this young author took a step back and listened for advice not coming from big-name writers, her personal picture would have been much more clear.
I will shoot you right between the eyes and say I am neither a Nin, Gaiman, or Hemingway. I am the machine. I am the gun steel mecha-man that needs to crank and crank and crank and crank and work and work and work and work but evaluates what he’s cranking out and is only satisfied when it dazzles him. That’s my path to achievement, but it very well may never be yours. That’s for you to decide. It’s your rodeo, after all.