I subscribe to a few blogs and twitter feeds for writers, particularly the indie and emerging sort. Interesting info, pep talks, giveaways – good stuff. It’s actually how I started reviewing books: the promise of free novels in exchange for my opinion was too good to pass up. That was pretty naïve of me, but if you promise me books or appeal to my better nature, chances are, I’ll at least consider your offer.
Anyway, I keep reading encouragement like “Just write lots! Write all the time! Keep writing!” without any kind of qualifiers.
It may sound harsh, and it’s certainly more “old school,” but I don’t think that everyone has a piece of art (in the form of a novel or painting or film or music or photograph or sculpture) inside. Some of us – most of us, really – are the audience, the other essential side to art’s existence. A well-informed audience is priceless, and increasingly hard to find.
I’ve said this before, and I stand by it. Sometimes, to have anything to say at all, you need to shut up and listen to others. Hold your opinions close for a moment and watch the people around you. Better yet, throw yourself in the muck with them and experience the rending and creation of the morning’s first pot of coffee with burnt toast – the ecstasy and the agony of the little things. The daily things. The texture of soft sheets and the fluffy protection of a down comforter. The manic movement of flame on a candle or a fireplace. The shrill ringing in your ears after listening to music too loud on a low-quality sound system.
When I was in college, one of my professors said, “Whatever you do, you make a text of your life.” These details are our narrative background. If we only write about things in our imaginations, we risk missing the real stories happening around us —
and these real stories are closer to art than anything that most of us can write on our best days.
Write everyday, yes, but for yourself. In a journal. Don’t publish every word just because the technology exists. Hold your stories close, and wait. Let them take root before flinging them out into an indifferent and possibly hostile world.