Over the last few weeks, I have read lots of blogs about writing, hoping to get a tip here or there about getting published and also to connect to other writers.
But many of the tips have made me question myself as a writer at a time when I haven't been able to write - either because my back hurt too much to sit or because I was feeling a little comfortably numb from the meds. Just a little of what I've read lately is that adverbs are out of style, it's best to repeat the word "said" and use nothing else to point to the person who speaks, and that characterization must be done in a very specific way. We can't let things happen to our characters - they must do all the work. There's probably something else out there saying I shouldn't overuse dashes as much as I do - I don't care - I like them.
When you're not in the middle of writing, it's easy to doubt yourself - or maybe it's the other way.
The fact is there's no one way to write. There are no rules. It's a creative process, and we have to trust ourselves. We have to trust our voice, whether or not that voice sings at the same pitch as the mainstream.
Stay with me here if you aren't a mommy - Barney songs, I think all of them, borrow a tune from a popular children's song with the words changed to make them seem new. That's why little kids love every Barney song. Do you want your novel, poem, or short story to be a popular Barney song that people love because it's familiar? Or do you want it to be something no one has heard before?
It's art. There are no rules.
I concede the fact that publishers have rules. So it's risky to go outside the mainstream if you want to make an indecent amount of money and be so famous that people follow you around with cameras. I don't. I want to tell stories that make people laugh so hard they almost pee their pants. I want to make people cry just a little when things go badly when you think they can't get worse.
I shake off the self-doubt today.
I suck it up and remember the people I used to work with that laughed out loud when they read my then-funny blog (a different one) about a certain single mom's post-divorce struggles. I remember my co-workers wiping their tears (from laughter) when my life got to its lowest point and my writing voice became it's funniest.
I will remember the room full of women that laughed out loud the last time I read one of my stories at a public reading. And the laughter the time before that when I read out loud in class. No one can tell me I'm not quite doing it right if the emotion I wanted to elicit from readers bursts out of them.
I will remember the people who told me they loved my story and were touched by it on the day I had the nerve to read out loud a sad story that made me cry when I read it.
I am not doing it wrong.
My writing isn't for everyone - and neither is yours. Do your thing. Get feedback to get it polished, but let's stop listening to global tips about writing - and stop giving them as if we are the one authority on how to write a story.