Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Morning Reading: "Writing well is probably going to hurt."

Margaux Wexberg Sanchez in the St. Louis Beacon writes an article titled "Lessons about writing from Michelle Latiolais."

Her latest book, a collection of short stories called "Widow," has earned Michelle some long-overdue time in the literary spotlight, which brings me to one of the first lessons Michelle taught me: Do not write to earn time in the literary spotlight. Writing well has nothing to do with notoriety.

Lesson No. 2: Writing well has nothing to do with money, either. We should write for reasons more profound and significant than any marketplace can value.

Lesson No. 3: Discipline, in and of itself, is overrated. It's true that writing won't happen without carving out the time to write, and certainly deadlines can be used to a writer's advantage, but if we pay too much attention to our schedules and word counts, something else is likely to get too little.

Lesson No. 4: Writing well is probably going to hurt. For one, the world is full of heartache, and we write, no matter the genre, about living in that world. The world is also full of beauty, a fact that can be equally painful to confront.

Lesson No. 5: Read 50 pages a day from a work of your choosing, not something someone has told you you should read. This liberty is one of our most precious: to be the arbiters of our own taste.

Lesson No. 6: Don't be afraid to stop reading something if you find you've lost the will. Except perhaps in elementary school, there is no prize for making it to the last page.

Lesson No. 7: Whether a reader can "relate to" a piece of writing is not a good indication of its quality. Sometimes writing describes our shared world best by rendering it unfamiliar, unrecognizable even.

Lesson No. 8: Whether a piece of writing is "easy to read" is not a good indication of its quality. Some of the best writing is very, very hard to read, for too many reasons to address here.

Lesson No. 9: Seek criticism, and then be willing to forget it, not because some of it might hurt (see lesson No. 4), but because not all of it will be helpful. The helpful stuff will be the stuff that sticks.

Lesson No. 10: When you find a good reader for your work, someone who helps you to do what you do better than you could do it on your own, hold onto that person. That person is your friend.

To read it in its entirety, click here.



ACuriousMind said...

Excellent advice. Thank you for posting this.

Lou said...

Reminders worth saying again.

Anonymous said...

Wisdom that seems to apply to those of us who speak through what we make with our hands.
Thank you for this.

the other L

Rebel Girl said...

Thanks for reading!

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