FULL BLEED: TRANSMIT TRANSPORT TRANSFORM


Pretty sure I've used that title before. That's okay. There's folks who go their entire careers just recycling their own work or the work of others. They do okay. But sometimes they end up trapped by it. Look at JK Rowling. A monumental, titanic success and all she's ever going to do is Harry Potterverse stuff for the rest of her life. Sure, she may write other books but relatively speaking, ain't nobody gonna care. Same with Stephanie Meyer and for that matter E.L. James. Rewriting books they've already written (that were certainly not technically good -- but that just goes to show that technique is vastly overpraised as a thing to reach for -- entertainment is where it's at.)

But still, they're going to be rewriting those books forever. It's all that any but the most discerning fan is going to want from any of these writers. Don't worry, I've seen hit happen to much less popular writers than the ones mentioned above. And, honestly, the ones above could never write another word and still have more money than they or their families could spend in a lifetime. They'll be fine. And they'd be fine even if they just wanted to write something different. Nothing in the world to stop them from just writing a thing and tossing it up on Smashwords or the Kindle store.

I mean, damn, there you can be free of expectation. You can defy genre. You can do whatever it is the hell you want. You, of course, will likely not get paid for your troubles, though I imagine that any of the three above would and probably generate some very decent numbers, at least on an absolute scale. They'd be *terrible* in comparison to their previous careers, sure.

The point stands. They're free (unless contracts prevent them from doing so, and then even at that point, they could turn in 400 pages of just about anything and it could be turned into a novel and made to work.) Just that it wouldn't be another runaway success.

I won't go into my whole tirade about writing advice vs success advice, though I was given a golden opportunity to do so this morning.

But here, if you've come for advice, I've got some. Buckle up for the stratosphere. The sky is the limit and the stars themselves will quail in the shadow of your coming, if only you follow this simple advice.

You don't need to ask permission to write. This is not a new thing. I've seen variations on it for a very long time, and it bubbles up from time to time, seemingly afresh. Though with social media being what it is, the half-life of *anything* not being trammelled to death in the discourse is pretty short. I know. That's three-quarters of the fun.

Seriously. You don't need permission. Go ahead. Start it up. You don't need to outline (though it might help if you do.) You don't need a title (but a working title is a good thing.) You don't even need to research (particularly if you're making it up.) You don't need to have traveled or to have a day job. You don't need to be a good person or have a special writing room or use a particular pen or computer or any material object. If you think you do, then just go outside and pick up the first rock or bottle cap or any other object that could possibly serve as a fetish and pick that thing up and decree that this is your WRITING THING and keep it with you. There. You have everything you need. And if you lose it, well, it wasn't anything more than something you picked up from the ground in the first place. That's the magic of magic. You can make a thing and discard it as easily.

You don't need to know a particular method (though, again, some of them may be valuable.) You don't to know anyone in the business. You don't have to do anything other than sit down and write. If you don't know what to write, then I suggest going back to the planning stages for a little while and sketch things out. It's a lot easier to change a single sentence or paragraph of synopsis than it is to throw out chapters that didn't need to be there (or you don't even want to be there, or don't serve the story or aren't pretty enough to get away with without serving the story or moment or atmosphere.) And yeah, sure, you don't even need to tell a story. Poetry's good for that. I never got the hang of it though.

The things you think you need are standing in your way. Not to write. Or to pre-write.

Now if you're concerned about fitting into genre or riding the wave of popularity or how do you replicate the success of JK Rowling or get a million reads on Wattpad or get that Netflix deal, you're not thinking about the writing, are you? You're thinking about success.

Think about the writing instead. Of course, you may be in a position that you need the writing to be a success so that you can pay the bills with it and then be able to do nothing but write so that you can make a living. I hate to be that guy, but sometimes it simply doesn't work out like that. Believe me.

Believe me.

I'm fortunate in that I've found a publisher who wants to work with me. That's some success. I can't tell you how to do that. I didn't do it by bending what I was writing to what I thought someone else wanted. Of course me doing that probably got me fired from some writing jobs in the past (not to mention really has cramped my style in getting work accepted at other outlets -- but I'm not good at living up to an expectation. Any kind, at least when it comes to words on paper.)

So don't ask for advice on writing. Maybe ask for feedback (but all you're going to get if you're lucky is honest feedback from one reader who may or may not be in touch at all with what's going to sell.) Remember that publishers don't know what's going to sell. They don't. They do not. Anyone who says they do is lying. They know what they believe is publishable and may have a chance with a lot of luck to catch on. But they absolutely do not know what sells exceedingly well or they would just publish that. There would be no such thing as remainder books. Used bookstores wouldn't exist because books would beloved forever instead of churned. Editors and publishers all rolling dice on things. Oftentimes they're making what they think are safe bets, and the audince just sees as a safe bet and not anything exciting at all so they stay away in droves. Or they buy enough for it to continue along for a little while then drop off.

This is not to say that publishers and editors are dumb and bad. They are neither. They are human (and publishers typically are organizations, where you have to deal with groups of humans coming together and enacting what they want in addition to what the organization requires -- the bigger, the more likely that these human desires come into direct conflict with one another and end up working against the organization over time, but that's a tale for another day.) Publishers and editors are imperfect humans. Understand that if you're trying to base the worth of your work (and *gulp*, more dangerously, yourself) on their feedback and opinions. That's a path to madness. But it's a common madness in this endeavor. Note I'm not going to call it a business. There is a business of writing. I'm no goddamn good at it. I'm, however, a pretty good writer in my own slice of things.

Ask for feedback where you believe it to be valuable (don't ask me because, well, I'm not going to give you good commercial advice. Seriously, the last story that moved the needle for me was "The Junky's Christmas" by William S. Burroughs, which I read for the first time not so long ago.) And it's not even a *genre* story, but it's scarier than any horror and more uplifting than any Christian fiction (is that not the very purposes of those genres, to scare in the first case and confirm belief therefore uplifting the believer in the second.) See, there's the problem there, in relying on genre as promise. The only promise you should make is that of experience, hopefully a relatively unique one. Granted, that may take some time to develop the skills required to do so. That's okay. It's a process.

Don't ask permission to grow. Don't ask permission to make the attempt. Don't allow your own conception of your work to be shaped by others. If you're going to write, go ahead and write. Allow yourself to make mistakes. Allow yourself to explore the freedom afforded you. Don't envy those who have built empires with their words, because they're stuck in them. Stay in a frontier, restless and quick to move, nomadic and living within a territory rather than exerting your will upon it (and having it crumble to dust often within your own lifetime.) Don't ask permission and don't seek it. Trespass. Steal. Break things and patch them with gold. Make invisible fractures and leave corrosives within so that when the last word lands, defenses crumble and are laid bare before you.

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