We hear about how zombies are over and how fairy tales are in, we hear about agents and we worry about if we can one day sell the thing we have scarcely typed five paragraphs of.
We ought never end a sentence with the word of. Or to. Or with.
We think we should write science fiction because smart people do that, or we should give up on literary fiction because vampires are where the money is (even though some writing magazine just told us the vampire craze is dead – haha dead, get it?), and what if that isn't where the money is and everyone is still stuck on serial killers and zombies after all?
But young adult is where the real market is, right? We should take a class on that, we should join a writing forum, we should have a writing group, except writing groups are bad for originality, or is that reading?
We should not read while we write because it will influence us, or was that we should read as much as we can while we write so we stay fresh?
We should never write cliches, we should only write things that have not been done, we should give up and write whatever, we should cut our teeth on fan fic and not worry about all that pesky character development. Maybe we should skip the publisher for that novel we haven't written yet and go straight to kickstarter, and maybe if we just read the latest magazine article on “5 Sure-Fire Ways to END Writer's Block NOW!” we can finally get started…
Just stop for a minute.
We are all here because we are writers, we want to be writers, or artists, or creatives. We have a need to express things that are within us, sometimes buried deep from years of shoulds and should nots, or just beneath the surface and waiting to be discovered.
Sometimes they lay like seashells in the sand and beg us to pick them up and hold them, smooth and cold like porcelain, to our ears, and listen.
We will never get to what is inside by reaching for what is outside. We will never be fulfilled as writers, never find that peace we write to seek, if we listen only to the bustle of the world going by, and not the seashell in our hands.
We must write what we write. We must come to the page, the canvas, the world as we are, and no one else. We must dive into our obsessions and burn through them, write into them, explore every unflattering angle and beautiful crevice of the things we cannot stop thinking about.
Whether it is cliche or obscure, if we do it honestly, we will offer the world what we are here to offer. And when we let go and admit to who we really are, the art is a little freer to make, the blocks not so blocked, the time not so long before we can feel the idea giving way and letting us slide into the heart of things.
And if the waves come and take a seashell away, wipe out what brilliant idea we had, it is easier to find another one just as brilliant, just as fine, because we know what to look for.
It does not always come easy.
When I began this year, I thought I was a science fiction writer. I had dabbled with all sorts of things, from some hard boiled crime to short stories dealing with Christian mythology, and of course, my beloved science fiction I thought I was meant to do.
I thought I knew what I wrote.
But what poured out was not expected: vampires, immortals, fairy tales and black magic, a tower that only stands because of the blood poured at it's feet, enchanted swords, underground owl men who tell your fortune in the bones of their pellets, exiled fairies, greek myths and conspiracies, and even more vampires.
I clung on for dear life as I wrote on and on, things I never dreamed I could imagine, anyone could imagine.
I can see the struggle in my early drafts, the fighting with myself, trying to steer the story to normal, all thrown out when the word count was too low, and I had to face myself as I am. I started many months with the hopes that maybe this time I would find sanity, the previous bloodbath of a novel was a fluke, but I was wrong.
I know better now, and I am a better writer. I look forward to what darkness lays before me, what evil deeds will await, what fairy tale I can twist.
I write what I write, it's just easier that way.
Write what you write, live as you live, let the rules that work for you find you.
And spend that money you save on writing magazines on a good pen, or some chocolate, or wine. Whatever makes you happy.