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The Past | The Previous

Learning New Writing Advice

I think I need to come up with better writing advice. Yesterday, my fifteen year old neighbour came around looking for an English tutor, and told me she wanted to be an author. In response, I told her that she ought to like being poor.

Later, I thought, what kind of advice is that?

When I first got into the writing scene, the first group of writers I met told me how to file my taxes and then discussed TV shows. I remember leaving that first meeting vaguely disappointing that it wasn't, you know, somehow more... insightful. I was eighteen, maybe nineteen, and I hadn't met any authors before, but whatever image I had in my head, it wasn't that. I didn't yet realise that a lot of authors were also Chemists, librarians, mechanics, and so on and so forth, paying their bills, raising families, and sneaking off hours to write what was in their head. I thought making a living out of being an author was an easy way of life, of writing and selling and then enjoying the fruits of your labour as you sat on a beach, somewhere. Well, okay, I didn't think about the beach, but the point was, I hadn't really gotten anything resembling the vaguest idea of how it was.

What I should have said, yesterday, was that you ought to believe in being a writer, that you ought to want it, like you don't want anything else. That you ought to have taste and an eye for detail and quality, and it shouldn't be my eye or anyone else's eye, but your own. That you should be able to move between being delicate and sensible, to loud and outrageous. That you ought to let your emotions out, that you shouldn't crowd yourself, or hide it away, unless you are required to for you work. I should have said read, read so that you understand that genre is a set of rules and phrases, and that it covers everything you read, and that the notes, once learned, are there for you to weave in and out of your own work. I should have said, do it, don't be afraid, don't be shy, don't let the setbacks get you down, don't let the back things people say, the personal things they murmur, stick to you.

Instead, I let my cynicism answer for me.

Tsk.

I ought to know better.

At the very least, I should have said, "Don't be shit."