“My advice is…really the same for anybody writing any kind of book…but I guess it’s more for fiction writers like myself. It’s really basically this:
WRITE.” – Anne Rice
Roxanne Ravenel writes a weekly craft column called Storyteller Saturdays over on her site, Mindful Banter, in which she posts insightful interviews and observations of some of the biggest talents of our time. They’re quite inspirational. A few weeks ago, she posted about the songwriting talents of Taylor Swift that inspired me to dream of a day when Storyteller Saturdays might be singing the successes of another Swift — and I don’t mean Jonathan — and yesterday, she passed along this video of Anne Rice, who gained fame with Interview with the Vampire. It was so encouraging, I had to take it apart in my usual fashion, dissect it, study it, then ingest it. There are some wise words for the beginning writer who, as we all know, can get flustered and discouraged in this newly changing, fast-paced world of publishing. I’ve gone ahead and condensed some of the highlights for you here.
- Write what you want to be known for. Anne tells us to write the “book of our dreams…kick out the pages everyday and save them. You may write two or three chapters and decide you don’t like them — don’t throw them away, save them. Create, through writing, the person you want to be.”
- The great thing about our profession is there are no rules. A word processor or a typewriter and paper is all you need (or a burnt stick and some papyrus — just get it written!). “You can create War & Peace, or you can create The Old Man and the Sea. You can do that writing anywhere … you can do it in a cafe … a kitchen table … a garage office.” I’ve even done it on the toilet; of course it was a crappy first draft. Bah-dump-bah!
- Every year, someone makes it from their garage or kitchen to the top of the best-seller list. They write in their bedroom, late at night, or if like me, wake at an ungodly hour in the morning to do it. They carve out time to write. Anne dispels the myth that it is impossible for people to break into the publishing world, assuring that it’s simply not true. She reminds us, “I came out of nowhere. I was a nothing and a nobody. [My book] had been turned down about five times (wow! only five?) by knowledgeable people who said it wasn’t worth publishing. Then it was published and I was off and running.” She does include the disclaimer that there are those who never break in — maybe they should, maybe they shouldn’t, we aren’t the ones to decide. But in my opinion, if you have a grasp on the craft and follow her advice, I don’t see how you can fail.
- The publishing world is crying out for new voices, visions, stories, characters. “They don’t want someone that sounds just like Anne Rice, Stephen King, Oscar Wilde, or Danielle Steel. They want an original voice. They want somebody new and fresh.” I’ve read that there are no original stories anymore, so if that’s true, then how are they different? It’s the voice that tells them. It finds a unique way. Look at Titanic. It’s essentially Romeo and Juliet at sea, with a ‘splash’ of Love Story.
- Go where the pain is. “When you write, go where the pain is.” Find that memory, feel it, and write about it in the solitude of your own space. Use those life experiences to bring depth where needed.
- Also, go where the pleasure is! “Write the book that’s interesting to you.” If, after a couple of chapters you have a boring book, don’t give up and toss it out (remember those boring chapters she told us to save in the beginning?). Ask yourself what you need to make it interesting to you. Do you change POV? Make the character have a revelation? Have them go in a totally different direction? WHAT? Dunno — can’t tell you. But I’ve learned that the more exciting I make it for myself, the more anxious I am to get to work and write what will happen next — to satisfy my own curiosity.
- Your work will not appeal to everybody. Anne chuckles, “Every book I’ve ever written has gotten reviews on Amazon that say, ‘This is the worst book ever published. This woman doesn’t know how to write.'” She realizes and understands that you can’t please everybody, but if you write what excites you, you end up with a book that you like and can be proud of — one that you want to take out into the world. Not everybody likes sci-fi, or romance, or crime, or perhaps even your style of delivery…and some genres are broken down so specifically, that the possibility exists that they simply don’t like that offshoot of it. Or it may be a story about a car wreck on a morning when the editor just got into a fender-bender, so he trashes it. Who knows? Don’t take no as an answer from anybody. Believe in yourself and your work and KEEP GOING.
- When presenting your manuscript, don’t revise. “Any editor that rejects your book doesn’t get it.” I love that! Do NOT revise for him, even if he leaves you a boatload of comments. This is YOUR book. “Revise for the editor who says he loves the book and wants to publish it, but asks if you could see your way into shortening it or changing this or that. That’s when you listen, that’s when you decide.” That advice is a golden nugget, ready to be stashed in a safety deposit box and looked at whenever you’re told to revise by an editor who basically isn’t interested in the first place.
- Consider self-publishing. If everybody rejects the manuscript but YOU still believe strongly in the piece, consider self-publishing.
- Talent is only one of many strengths necessary to make it. “You need stubbornness, you need courage, you need faith in yourself that’s as strong as any talent you may possess.” Let your talent flow, but support it with some backbone, and if you feel you don’t naturally carry that trait, look to a source greater than yourself to find the strength and courage and faith to keep going. You ARE a successful writer!
“The only thing that’s standing between you and realizing your dreams as a writer is yourself.You’re the one who’s got to write the material.
You’re the one who’s got to believe in it.
You’re the one who’s got to take it out there.”
I hope the NaNoWriMo is going well for everybody! I’m getting there…finally reached the halfway mark.
26 thoughts on “WRITE ON!”
All great advice… Self belief is the most important quality a writer needs but often it's the most elsuive! Good luck with nanowrimo!
Isn't it though, Pat? I've got a few morsels out there in competition that I thought were GREAT when I wrote them, revised them, and sent them off, but self-doubt crept in and now…I wonder. At times, it's all I can do to tell myself, "This is a great story" and believe it.Thanks for stopping…early morning!
I loved Roxanne's post. You're right it was so encouraging. Glad the message was echoed here. Those are all great messages to emphasize. Glad you are kicking writer tush with NaNo!
Since I mainly turn to Youtube to satisfy my music needs, I forget that it has such wonderful interviews. When Roxanne posted the video widget yesterday, I watched it over and over, really listening to what Anne had to say, because it pulled me right out of the dumps wondering if this was all worth it.Of course it was all I could talk about with Mom yesterday, but all she would do is look at me, bored. So I decided to chat about it further with y'all, who might find the topic a little more interesting. I love when something like this video puts out a positive message for beginning writers trying to get established. There's so much negativity out there (don't dream that Oprah's going to call – she's not. Well, she's gotta call somebody…why not one of us?)Thanks for commenting.
I really needed to hear all this. Sometimes it's so hard to believe in yourself when things you don't like are on the bestseller lists and seem to be the yardsticks of success. I mean logically, if I don't like what's popular, I'll never write anything that will be popular since my taste obviously doesn't mesh with "the masses." But I can always write what I believe in and eventually self-pub if I want to. (I never used to think I'd hear myself say that.)Great post. Thanks! 😀
ML, I just came from commenting on this Anne Rice topic over on Roxanne's site, and I like how you further dissected and ingested it here. Many great points Anne made, didn't totally agree with everything she said in the video, but you have slotted out the things I thought were useful. Thanks for the summary.Also, keep meaning to tell you I love that NaNo writer graphic/badge at the top of this blog. It's hilarious. I love when the picture changes. Really love the "sleeping at his desk" one. So funny. Is that badge only available from the NaNo website?Congrats on making it half way. I never made it half way when I participated in NaNo last year, so to me halfway is awesome. I got my pom pons in the air and I'm doing back flips to cheer you on. (Well, pretend back flips.) Gooooooooooooo Swift!
I'm thrilled you loved Anne's video. I loved it, too. Thank you for laying her advice out in a way that makes a fantastic future reference. My favorite advice was definitely: Go where the pain is. I also loved when she said writing to her for advice was basically a waste of time. I understand what she means. Sometimes my search for advice becomes another form of procrastination when what I really need to do is WRITE.
Interesting stuff. Judging by the video, I don't have quite the same philosophy as Anne Rice, but her advice, 'Write' is unbeatable. Good going with Monte. He must be getting into all sorts of strife by now – with only 11 more days to get out of it!
Great Post and advice for all of us. Not just in our writing but in life. I have to remember that our characters deserve to have some fun during the course of the story. In addition to the pain, I think it makes the character more real. And gives the reader an emotional rollercoaster to ride. I am dedicated to the write the novel I have always wanted to read. I love that advice, I hope that is the main motivation for all of us.
Lexa – aren't these some encouraging words? Yeah…self-pub. Something I'm trying to avoid, due to the stigma of it…not that there's not some delightful stuff out there self-pubbed. I guess when the book's done, I'll cross that bridge then.Write what makes YOU happy!
I dissected it, studied it, ingested it…I left out the part where I crapped it back out in ten easy-to-read high points! :o)Yeah…I never totally agree with everything anyone says…take what you need and leave the rest behind. The great thing about this video is it's positive ENCOURAGING message. I mean, I REALLY have read someone (very negative article…she was trying to be "frank") who said, "Oprah won't call," and many other pessimistic one-liners. When I read it, I thought, "Okay…Oprah won't call YOU." My dreams have been stifled for far too long to feed into that.Don't you love the cartoon? It's from Writertopia, and they have various ones. I tried to link it to their site, but couldn't figure it out. It just brings up a window with a bigger picture of it. It's not just for NaNo, and there's a way (if you use it for other works that may be longer) to adjust the final word count. I don't know how, but they explain.Close to 3/5's done! On the downhill slope. It was that backward somersault that you did that pushed me over the hump. Thanks, D
Quite simplified, isn't it, Roxanne? WRITE. But bottom line, that's the truth. WRITE. I can twitter, read, clean the lint out of my belly button…but that doesn't get one word on paper!Artists (writers included) lead tortured lives…or at least I do…God didn't allow us to go through it for naught! USE THAT PAIN.Thanks for stopping by, and for bringing this video to light. Hope your schedule relaxes a bit! I know the feeling.
I like some points and disregarded some. Honestly, I don't know how difficult it is to get published if you have a good book…but it's true that there's someone every year that makes it.Monty is doing fine…I'm the one going through strife! :o)Have a safe Thanksgiving travelling.
Fun, pain, fun, pain…gotta mix those up – like in real life. You ARE going to write that novel, Rob. LOTS of people will want to read it!Thanks for stopping by. :o)
I'm glad the back flips help. LOL I don't want to be over here breaking my neck for nothing. I'm no spring chicken anymore. :)Also thanks for the Writertopia tip. I'd love to have something like that on my site, and I hope you don't mind if I steal it. It's so freakin hilarious, and I always enjoy seeing it when I'm here visiting you.
Not at all…I'm all about sharing! Also, they encourage the word to be spread, which is why I tried to link it to it. I could probably do it in a caption, but I think it would take away from the aesthetics of it. Just google writertopia…it will take you to the site.
Our book won't appeal to everyone. We just hope it appeals to a lot!Congratulations on hitting the halfway mark for NaNo.
Thanks Alex, for the congrats and for stopping by. Yeah…I'm hoping those one or two people who don't like it won't hurt sales figures. :o)Doing the Cheers Blogfest. Don't really know you, but this is an effort to do so. Gotta read up on some past posts and get a feel for how to answer those questions.
Thanks for the link. It's a great message to share. I'm very much obliged. 🙂
my best writing thoughts flow in the middle of the day…so weirdnew follower, hi!
Thanks for coming in, Nancy. I loved your blog! I'll be directing others over there often.
Hey Tammy, and welcome! I scribble down ideas throughout the day…there's no set time for me…they're ready to be picked at the peak of ripeness and if I miss them, they rot on the vine!
The pleasure pain principle. Works every time, in part or in full.And thanks for signing up for the Alexfest!
Well thank YOU for stopping by, Stephen. The fest should test my research and creative writing skills. To write of a man whom I know not much. It'll be fun finding out.
Planning on linking to this post in next week's Sunday Surfing post! Well done!
Thanks, Jeff! :o)