I know I promised people to write about my Russian literature influences, like what books inspired me to write, what authors, and someone asked for a post on how to write ABOUT ME blurbs. I will get to it, I swear, but something else bubbled to the surface today, something that I want to share, to help those of you who are like me, unsure of themselves as artists, stumbling in the dark, wanting to share their art and not quite having enough courage to step forward, into the light, and say it as they want to say it, afraid of judgement, afraid to be themselves, like I often am, and therefore to those who withhold their true creations, ashamed, perhaps, or perhaps thinking their writing is so utterly ugly and horrible and shallow and not worthy of anyone's time that they never dare. I've been there, I'm still there, I'm slowly climbing out, and I learned one big lesson today that will help me get better, and hopefully I can condense it into one blog post to help you too, to give you a hand. Hold on to my hand, together we can create art the way WE want to, the way WE feel, the way WE want to share it with others, no matter what anyone might tell us.
There are as many ways to write as there are people on this planet. Writing is one scary affair. Why wouldn't you be scared, faced with millions and million of brilliant books written by others, dwarfed by their genius? One trip to a bookstore alone might instill terror in the heart of a beginning writer to the point of that writer giving up without trying to write anything in her or his life. What's the point, right? How can you, this very little unknown you, be heard in the sea of this literary goodness? And so some people quit without ever trying. There are others who don't quit, but they decide to go the safe route, denying themselves to create the way they want to create, diving into reading books on writing, going to classes, attending lectures by famous authors, joining writer's groups, you name it. They figure, hey, before I tackle this writing endeavor, I will be a smart little monkey. I will learn everything there is to learn about the craft, I will talk to everyone I can talk, I will gather knowledge and information and facts and tricks and tips and then, ONLY then, I will start. Sadly, this is yet another painful path on the way of squashing yourself under the influence of those who know better, who have figured it out for themselves and will now share their path with you. The problem is, they are not YOU, they will never be YOU, and they can't tell you how to create, only YOU know that, how to create YOUR way, and you have to go through that on your own. But here is what happens, if you did't give up before even trying, if you did go forth with your desire, if you did start to write, and if you did spend time trying to learn BEFORE you started writing, there will come a moment of realization, that this, what you are doing, is not YOU. And this is when many writers experience writer's block. Because they are trying to be someone who they are not, guiding themselves by how someone told them they should, not having enough courage to do it their way, and so they get stuck. It's at this moment that a whole horde of writers quit and decide to never try it again. This is where I was this week, on this edge of indecision, thinking about quitting. Why? Because I was afraid to write my own way.
By becoming a writer you are sentencing yourself to being misunderstood. Now, before you start disagreeing with me here, listen. Let me tell you something. Back to my point earlier. We all are the same, and yet we all are different. And so there are things in our lives that are common to many, and there are things that differ so much that it's hard for us to explain it to each other. I assume there is a reason you want to write, to share yourself with others via written word. I mean, what is wrong with you, darling? Same thing that is wrong with me. Only nothing is wrong with us, we simply prefer solitude. I prefer solitude because I've been misunderstood my entire life and I finally started talking to a diary in my teens, sharing my life with the pages that always listened, that never interrupted me, never judged me, never told me how to do things. I had a pretty strange and violent childhood, and it shaped me, made me who I am, and, finally, in my 30's, I've accepted it, stopped trying to fix myself and started thriving on who I am as an individual, as an artist, returning back to that kid in my head who never left me, who was always there, waiting for me to return, waiting to show me how to be ME. And that is what you have to do, be YOU. Because however you write IS the right way, there is no other way, you have to feel it, to love it, to swim in it, to be comfortable with it. Here is why I doubted myself this week. One very good friend and writer who you perfectly well know, whom I talked about before, but who from now on prefers to stay anonymous (and I request you to honor his wish and not mention his name in the comments or anywhere else if you know who I'm talking about) because he values his privacy and solitude above everything else, and I've been disrupting it with my social media presence, anyway, who is helping me a lot and is sort of guiding me and mentoring my writing... well, let's say, we misunderstood each other recently but we sorted it all out. What I learned from this is this. I like to write very messy 1st drafts (just finished one of IRKADURA), where I dump shit out of my head without any structure, then I like to hack it and reshape it in 2nd drafts, and then I polish it in 3rd drafts, or maybe even do a 4th draft if necessary, but this is not how many other writers write, AND IT'S OKAY. I don't plot first, AND IT'S OKAY. I write very shitty dialogue in my 1st drafts, more as a placeholder, AND IT'S OKAY. I don't have much back story for any of my characters in my 1st drafts, AND IT'S OKAY. I'm careless about language in my 1st drafts, not giving shit about rich vocabulary or proper sentence structure or style, AND IT'S OKAY. You see, it's easy for another writer to misunderstand me, it's my process, and it's very different for some, similar for others, but I learned that unless I do my art my way, my art is SHIT, a poor imitation of something it's not, something I want it to be, but it can't, because it's not me.
Only you will know how to write your books so quit asking others. This uncertainty you're experiencing is normal. Think of it this way. Remember how you learned to ride a bike? Remember how many people told you how to ride it, explained to you the whole balance thing, and how, certain you knew what you were doing, you got on the bike, and within seconds you fell, and you scratched your knees bloody, and you cried big angry tears, wondering what it was that they told you wrong that made you fall? NOTHING. They didn't tell you anything wrong, balance is simply this thing you have to learn on your own. No matter how many times you were told by how many brilliant teachers, you had to fall again, and again, and again, and smear snot all over your face, and get up, and get back on the bike, and practice, practice, until you got it. You felt it, you knew you got it, and after that you had to practice to get better at it, and better, and then maybe you did jumps, or drifted, or pedaled really fast and then did this spectacular turn to other kids' envy, showing off for that girl or that boy you liked, or for your friends, you remember that moment of pride, how you knew that you knew, you figured it out, you learned how to ride a bike on your own, don't you? Same with writing, same with any kind of art, really. See, it's the same physics that hold the bike upright while in motion, but all of us have different way at how we arrived at riding one. I'm using this, of course, as a very primitive analogy, but the idea is this. You have to be comfortable in your own skin, to be able to create your own way, and only then you will learn how to produce the best art you possibly can. There will be those who will tell you that you're doing it wrong. Don't listen to them. Even if they are well respected professionals in their field, don't listen to them. As an artist you have to develop a very thick skin, to protect what's inside you, to be able to create YOUR way. This is why most of us love solitude. We are very fragile, it's easy to break us, and it's only by being alone that we can concentrate on our inner selves long enough to be able to extract what's inside and make it public, our very essence.
There is only one solution to this, to start believing in yourself, start believing in your writing. Do a lot of it. Turn yourself deaf to those who tell you that you can't and stubbornly keep moving forward. It's like with that bike, practice. Every day, practice. Do a lot of writing and a lot of reading, and slowly, you will see yourself emerge in that pile of mess on paper, slowly, you will gain confidence, slowly, you will get better. And better. And better. Really, there is nothing you can lose by writing a lot of shit. There is only one outcome from it. YOU WILL GET BETTER. It's how we learn best, by doing things. So, don't listen to anyone, don't listen to me, forget you read this blog post, throw everything you ever heard from anyone out of your head, and go write, YOUR way, and write and write and write. And there will come a moment when you will forget the world and be so deep in your story that you will cry from happiness, and that's the place to be. I hope you reach that moment, and I hope it will grow from a moment to an hour to a year to the rest of your life. Create, be happy, share yourself, YOUR way. That's all really that matters.