I've been pondering for a while what to write about this time, as several things happened this week, all of them sorta kinda pointing in the same direction. Number one, I had a breakdown, thinking I suck, my writing sucks, and I wanted to quit. Like, for 1 hour I wanted to quit, for real. Then I got really mad for thinking that and wrote 5K words. I got over it. But other little things kept happening, and I started thinking, what the hell? Why do I suddenly doubt myself? I'm on my 3rd novel, it's supposed to be easier? I told everyone it's easier? Now what? What is going on? And I think I know. I'm guessing I'm graduating to some other level, not so much in my writing, but in this tricky thing called self-belief. I stopped being afraid, I know I can write, I'm still not satisfied with my writing (I hear writers never are), but I'm not a total newbie anymore. And what happened is, at one point I got so relaxed and so myself, that I thought, oh my God, what if people think I'm wrong? Who do I think I am, to feel so comfortable? I'm doing it wrong, I'm doing everything wrong! And it kept going like this in my head in circles. I imagine you had something like this happen to you too. I think it happens just so you can get over it and get to the next stage, to be okay with how you are write, YOUR WAY. I think that's what it is.
There is no right or wrong way to write, there is only YOUR way. I'm in the middle of writing 1st draft of IRKADURA, as you know, and I have awesome amazing genius brilliant writer novelist genius Michael Gruber coaching me on it, because he's that awesome. So. He is busy, as all of us are. By the time we met to discuss IRKADURA, I have already started and was 25% into the book. We talked about writing a synopsis. He suggested I write one, 5 page one. He also suggested I stop, go back, and maybe even rewrite the 25% I already wrote. I nodded, being in awe, of course, of his knowledge. Because who am I to know? But the idea horrified me. I don't plot, I sort of write on the fly. So I cautiously said, I can't go back and rewrite 25%, it's already done. Michael was like, of course, it's your book. But I said I will do the synopsis. I thought about it for a whole week, and it gave me the creeps. I felt like, if I know where my novel is going, it will kill me. it will suck the fun out of writing. I even bothered awesome Hugh Howey, emailing him, all anxious, asking, what should I do. He said, just write it the way you write. Easy. That's all we need sometimes, as writers, for someone to hold our hand. So if I may, I want to hold your hand with this story. I told Michael, I'm so sorry, I won't be able to write the synopsis. He was like, no problem, why are you sorry? It's your book. But I was afraid to say that. Guess what, about a year ago I wouldn't have listened to myself, thinking I was wrong. But I wasn't, I wasn't! I'm 60% into the book now and I'm happy I didn't write the synopsis. See? You're not wrong. Write how YOU write, that's the only way.
There is no right or wrong style, there is only YOUR style. Recently I came across a tweet from Chuck Palahniuk (yes, I'm a fan) about this little essay he wrote for LitReactor. It was about saying it wrong. Like, how do you say things wrong? You should totally read it, it's short. Here is the link for you. Why? Because. Because it will free you from this fear of being wrong, of writing in the wrong style somehow. I know, I felt like that. For example, I like to lose myself in these long long run-on sentences. I always cringe later on, rereading them, because I think they are wrong grammatically, structurally, everythingly. Here is one example from writing IRKADURA today: "Yulia, decked out in a fox shuba, her pride and glory, kept talking, warning Irka that she took precious time out of her day to get her to the doctor, and that this particular doctor was difficult to see, and that it was a privilege that she agreed to see Irka in the first place, and that of course it was only due to Yulia’s connections, and that Irka should be thankful for it, and— Irka stopped listening." So, there are too many words and, and, well, you can see all kinds of problems with this sentence, but the thing is, I love it. This whole run-on-ness makes me feel exactly how Irka felt, listening to Yulia. If I don't feel anything while writing, my reader won't feel anything while reading. That essay by Palahniuk only made me feel better about leaving these sentences in. They are not wrong, not at all, they are ME, and that's okay. And so it is with you. There is YOU in your writing, and it's not the wrong style, it's YOUR style.
There is no right or wrong opinion, there is only YOUR opinion. This is something that I saw on Twitter again, as I don't read the news and don't watch TV. Yesterday (or the day before?) everyone started flipping out about Justin Bieber and something he did. I didn't pay attention to it at first because I was writing, and, well, people in general like talking about celebrities on Twitter. Then I saw more tweets, then I was like, what the fuck? I googled it, and sure enough, Justin Bieber was pulled for DUI and behaved like, well, like any 19 year old, drunk and drugged (I'm guessing he was?), would behave, especially if he wasn't being used to being reprimanded. I saw a lot of hate on Twitter toward the boy, and it pained my heart. My daughter is 19, she had room to grow up and make mistakes. This poor kid, he's on display 24/7, he has no privacy, and he is crazed with money and freedom, of course he will do what he did, it's like a cry for help. So, here comes the "wrong" part. I wanted to talk about this, on Twitter, but I was afraid my opinion would be wrong. Because everyone was making jokes about this, and I didn't feel like joking. Well, guess what, then I saw Amanda Palmer feeling the same way (and yes, I'm also a fan and love her to death), and so, happily, I went and I checked out her blog post on the issue and I commented. I said, "The kid has no place to be stupid, to grow up, so he just does it the only way he knows, by using money to help him. I have a 19 year old daughter, and she did things, stupid things, to grow up. I did stupid, despicable things, to grow up. Still cringe, remembering. Back in the days... We used to call it a rite of passage, getting all high on whatever drugs we took back then, and going on vision quests. I mean, us back in the hunting days. Before we had supermarkets to get our chickens. Now what do we have for our kids? Nothing. We shelter them, not letting them break their own foreheads to find themselves. What do they do? They find ways to do it anyway. Justin is only one example of a bigger problem." And guess what? My comment is the top liked comment!!! Out of 130+! I was like, hey, I wasn't wrong after all! Of course, it's not about being wrong, it's about being okay to express your own opinion and stand by it. I'm still learning, but hey, I spoke up, and I intend to speak up more. AND YOU SHOULD TOO.
What does WRONG in this context means anyway? I mean, you can assemble a car wrong and then it won't be functioning properly, but you can't assemble a story wrong, you can't write it wrong. You can only write it your own way. Yes, you can judge it against big published works, but it doesn't mean shit. You can't compare, you simply can't, it will only get you depressed. You can only grow as a writer within your own skin, winning your own little victories, against yourself. And the only way to do is by writing, writing a lot, writing every day. One other thing writing a lot will do. You will start seeing YOU in your writing, like in a mirror, and slowly, over time, you will start liking YOU more and more, and be okay with YOU, and that is when your writing will start feeling good, better. Know why? Bingo. Because you will finally stop trying to be someone else, and that's when others will notice too. So good luck. Go show them. Go write YOUR story and forget about your fear being wrong. I will do the same. Deal? Deal.