Writing Advice From Famous Authors

JULY 2020 NOTE:  This entry has been edited a bit because said Famous Author turned out to be a major jackhat.  Thought about tossing her books which I've greatly enjoyed, but then realized if I toss the books of every author of who thinks I don't deserve to exist, that I don't deserve the same civil rights as everyone else, I'll have very little left to read.  (damn you, Human Nature!)  So as awkward and painful as it is, I'm trying to continue to find the value in the books while ignoring the author's personal flaws.

This post begins an occasional series regarding my thoughts on Writing Advice From Famous Authors.  (For writing advice from this non-famous author, click on the "writing" label to see those posts.  And now these as well.)

I'm a fan of this particular Jackhat's books, if not of her.  Her back story should be an inspiration to us all - never give up!  She recently posted some advice on writing.  (I'm not linking to it - not going to drive visitors to her site of Jackhattedness.)  The condensed version is:
  • reading
  • discipline
  • resilience & humility
  • courage
  • independence
Hard to disagree with any of those, except humility perhaps.  When you sell a bazillion books and make a bazillion bucks, well, then, yeah, you shouldn't be forgetting your humility.  But for writers on the other end of that bell curve, I think a healthy dose of arrogance is in order.

There will always be people saying You Can't Do It.  (whatever "it" is)  Writing a novel is one of the hardest things I've ever done in my life and I've done it four times now.  It's also one of the most enjoyable things I've ever done in my life, thus I'm already working on #5.

Self-doubt will afflict you as a writer and that's when arrogance is your friend.

SELF-DOUBT:  Say, is this any good?  I suspect it may stink...
ARROGANCE:  Hell, yeah, it's good!  In fact, it's *&^%$#@! awesome!  Shut up and keep writing.

I suppose it would be better to be confident rather than arrogant, but sometimes hubris is all you have to carry you through.

Don't get me wrong - I'm pretty confident.  (and more than a little arrogant)  (Perfection - It's Just Not For Me.)  I have occasional doubts about a line here, a chapter there, but the light of day usually either restores my faith in what I've written or suggests a new path to take.

I think a little arrogance is a crucial tool, not only for aspiring writers afflicted with naysayers, but also for those of us who have had a teeny tiny bit of success.  Meaning we wrote one or more novels, they got published and about fourteen people read them.  In no way do I wish to downplay the euphoria and overall wonderfulness of attaining that level of success.  Many writers never get there.  So I'm very grateful for my teeny tiny bit of success - and hope to keep building on it for the future.

But teeny tiny is probably not what most writers were dreaming of when they envisioned their post-publication success level.  The brutal indifference of the world, I think, is where arrogance can really help.  It's really hard to get people's attention focused on your books, particularly when it's a small, niche market like lesfic.  There just aren't that many readers of this kind of work.  And there are LOTS of other authors clamoring for readers' attention.  If you only generate one novel per every two to five years or so, you may not be making a big dent in that marketplace.

But arrogance sees you through!  Arrogance says, "That's right - you are amazing and so is your book!  Keep writing!"

One last thought on writing advice from famous authors:  The one thing all the writing advice in the world won't help you with - that no rule, guideline, tip, trick or technique can overcome - is lack of talent.
Oddly enough, that is no bar to success.
Which brings me to a quote from a topnotch writer who was also a big success:  "Life...is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."
So make sure you read a lot of good books while you're here!  Like THE BOOK OF KELL, coming in 2020.


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