Friday, September 17, 2010

Having The Last Word.

Right here in this very blog, I've administered a practically lethal dose of writerly angst.  So let's talk about FUN for a change.  Let's not talk about writing into the lonely void.  Or about the eternal "Is it good?  Is it crap?" question.

Let's talk about about "Having The Last Word." 

When I wrote for money, I wrote a lot of good stuff that got killed.  Horribly, stupidly, pointlessly killed.  Some of it was killed for good reason.  Killed to save the client/agency relationship. (I wrote a spot for KFC once -- in the narrative voices of Cheech and Chong -- that suggested there oughta be their kind of pot in the chicken pot pie. That never saw the light of client.  It was a very funny spot though.  Cracked me up.)  I wrote a ton of awful stuff, too. (That pie thing might have been awful stuff, actually.)  Some of my awful stuff didn't get killed.  I rue the day.   

Anyway. Back to my good, non-crazy stuff that was murdered.

Dead. Dead. Dead. For no apparent reason.  For selfish reasons.  For political reasons.  For all the wrong reasons.   Looking back, I had some very smart ideas.  Hey.  In the day when Nike was still a  missile and not yet a sneaker, I tried to convince some boss or other that "Just do it." was the most powerful possible tagline in the Universe. Oooh.  Killed so dead.  Nike lucked out.  And all I got was looked at funny.  No justice. 

Let's be honest.  People who are running a business may not be in the market for the most creative, most adorable, most wackily delightful writing.  They want writing that's good for business.  That, by the way, is what advertising writing is intended to be.  No matter what you may have heard.

One day when -- please, God -- I'm writing to make my &*#(&^@ agent and my &*(W^*& publisher happy, I'll probably break down and write what's good for business again and feel okay about listening to the voices of experience.

But right now?  Today

I'm the author, by gum.  I get to drive the bus.  It's my *%8#&^% bus. 

Today, I'm editing a Young Adult Fantasy novel I wrote a couple of years ago.  It's about mayhem in the time line and the utter destruction of the universe.  It's a lot of fun.  No.  Really.  It is.  I'm planning to drop it on those agents who said "I want to see some YA that's yada yada or yada yada" in the most recent issue of Writer's Digest.  My YA has yada yada out the wazoo, if I do say so myself. 

So, as I read I ask the Reader in my head, "Should I change this?  Or that?"  Sometimes the answer is, "Yes!  People will make serious fun of you if you leave that in."  And sometimes I answer back, "Oh, yeah?  You'll pry that sentence out of my cold, dead hand."  And guess what?

I am The Author.  I GET TO SAY. 

If you think it's not fun to make up stuff on your own terms and absolutely own that stuff -- at least until you sell it -- which is its own reward and time for you to move on and write something new anyhow --  you've been listening too hard to the long-suffering types.  Sure, F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote in his own blood and died young, but his liver was probably giving him fits the whole time.

Writing to please yourself is an amazing, good time.  When it's going well, it's a blast.  And when it's going rotten, it's still absolutely in the loving arms of you and your personal, magical Muse.  When I'm not all cranky about the rigors of agent hunting, I know this in my soul.

You can know it, too.  Look.  If you don't want to write, don't.  But if you've always thought you could, or if you already did and want to do more but you're having doubts or writerly angst, don't let anybody stop you.

Writing is a joyride.   And we Authors get to drive the bus. 

P.S.   Here's another fact:  When you are writing on a regular basis, when you have finished something you've written and moved onto something else?  Listen up.  You are not a wannabee writer anymore.  You're a writer.  Period.  When you finish your first novel?  You're the author of that novel.  Do not let anybody tell you different.  Don't let them even try.  It is not necessary to sell what you write to be a real writer.  As a matter of fact, as I only just pointed out, that can be an impediment.


  1. Love this post. And the one that follows: on Petunia.

    Will refer back to your gentle, encouraging words many times... when writing in in...stall...moments. (I've never met a pun I didn't love, sorry).

  2. If you are looking for a thoughtful reader, consider my 12 year old daughter whose favorite genre is fantasy and reads between 2 to 3 novels a week (it is very hard to keep her in books!).

  3. You drive that *%8#&^% bus. It's an awesome *%8#&^% bus.