Tuesday, September 26, 2006

 

Writing Insight

This morning I came across two bits of insight about the business of writing that I found worth repeating.

First, Sean Williams, who despite his proclivity for emasculine drinks is a hell of a writer and a great guy to boot, has posted a ten point list of Tips for Writers:
1. Read a lot.
2. Write a lot.
3. Write what you love but be aware of the market.
4. Define your version of success and take concrete steps towards achieving it.
5. Be professional at all stages of your career.
6. Listen to everyone.
7. Be visible.
8. Challenge yourself, always.
9. Never believe you've figured it out, because everything changes.
10. Work hard.
There's an interesting discussion following Sean's post about whether an eleventh point should be added, about the need to find and join some sort of writing community. I used to think that wasn't an important component of the writing life, but then I started attending conventions and meeting other professional writers, and I realized I was wrong. If for no other reason than drinking alone in hotel bars is a sad and lonely thing, but drinking with a big group of writers is the most fun you can ever have.

Speaking of communities, in her brief reminiscence about the late John M. Ford, Elizabeth Bear said something truly profound on the subject. I've never thought about the community of writers in these terms before, but now I'm not sure if I'll ever think of it in any other terms again.
"One of the things they don't tell you about writing and selling a science fiction or fantasy novel (or even a couple of short stories) is that in so doing you are, after a fashion, marrying into a family. And that with that family will come delights, loved ones, crazy uncles you can't stand, and unpleasant duties. One of those unpleasant duties is passing the word when someone leaves us. One of the pleasant, if bittersweet, ones is recalling why they were loved."
These are added to my long list of clever things about writing that I wish I'd heard when I was a young aspiring hopeful, and which I'll be repeating to any young aspiring hopefuls I encounter.

Comments:
I really love Elizabeth Bear. That is beautifully accurate or accurately beautiful.
 
I think the sense of writing community is critical. With Alpha, the workshop for young genre writers, we look for approachable author guests and staff that will include the young writers into their circle at cons and introduce them around. The students have formed their own community now (in our sixth year). For some, it's the first time they've had like-minded friends. It goes beyond merely helping with their writing. It's--

"the most fun you can ever have"
 
I think that's great advice. Thank you!
 
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