August 3, 2012 by musehick
I have had, of late, which is kind of not unusual (look, I know that’s an awful way to phrase it, but what the hell?) , many conversations with writers – both in a face to face sense and in a via the interwub sense. How to get yourself out there – the avenues of approach etc, and the main conclusion that I have come to is that there is more than one way to skin a cat.
You are a writer of a specific genre – you have certain markets that want certain things and you have to provide set items on the menu for that clientele. Have a writer writing a horror novel give someone a book that has none of the expected landscape of a horror novel and watch the reader shut the book and go looking elsewhere (and of course I generalise here, because some writers transcend genres, and some established writers can do what they want on the pitch they have come to own). Genres are part of a marketing strategy, genres enable orientation – throw away your genre guidelines and you have no orientation or means of marketing. This is what you are told sometimes and this is what is hammered in.
Good writing is good writing, and good writing has a license to veer off the roads into unmapped territory.
Competitions or online presence, or traditional route of sending it to the publisher. What do I say? (Setting myself up as some kind of pseudo authority here). I say one, the other, or all three – throw enough mud and it will stick. Jesus, Buddha or Brahma are gonna get you somewhere closer to heaven if you follow them, and the same can be said of your trad authors with their agents, your internet hacktivist wunderkinds with the serialised twitter-novels, and your never seen the light of day competition hounds … all of them are valid.
Does this sound like I am sat on the fence or impaled upon it? I do not care. To give the impression that there is one avenue is false and hangs “Do Not Pass” signs on all the others.
It is kind of like, not to beat on a dead horse, these guys who trot out their magic rituals for arriving at a masterpiece (now having never written such a glowing example of literature I cannot swear to this) and others take up this second-hand voodoo in the hopes that they will what? conjure up the benevolent spirit that shat a novel into someone’s head? pure unadulterated bullshit – it reduces literature and writers to the gossip column fodder they should never be grouped with. Or maybe they should if they play up to it.
Anyway, all besides the point. I am not advocating “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law” as any kind of template for a writer, but why the hell not? Writers come in all shapes and sizes.
And so, rant over — here I am to peddle my wares. I kicked up some dirt on http://iamabastardpoet.wordpress.com/ today. Wrote some more for http://atomichead.wordpress.com, and formulated some more ideas which you shall be observing the fruit of anon.
I hate to preach about writing and I hate those who preach about writing. It works or it doesn’t. Complexify all you want, but if the shit your turn out is dross that would make an illiterate weep, what are you gonna do about it? Give up or get back on the horse and keep writing until you turn something out that resonates with someone and makes the text leap off the page as a living breathing thing.
Sitting there waiting for the next kernel of advice? Why aren’t you writing? Those who seek to learn to write are students and not writers. They get blocked because they get stopped because the last time they even pushed slightly forward was when someone dug in the spur and gave them a writing assignment. Need no other impetus than the one which springs from your own breast because that is where the truth of you as a writer resides.