It’s been a long time since I’ve written an advice post. But hey, if there’s one thing people love, it’s unsolicited advice! So, to celebrate NaNoMo, I’m going to jump right in and tell you what I think.
Here’s today’s writing advice:
Write Whatever the Hell You Want
As I mentioned in my interview with Eliza David, I’ve always known I wanted to be a writer. I wrote compulsively in high school and took every creative writing class I could at Colby College.
Rule number one in most of those creative writing classes? No genre fiction.
Granted, I still wrote some pretty crazy stuff (including a short story about Superman having a drunken one-night stand). But that prejudice against genre fiction stuck, and when I graduated college, I basically froze like a deer in the headlights.
Sure, I still wanted to be a writer.
But I didn’t just want to be a writer. I wanted to be THE BEST WRITER EVER.
And every time I had a story idea (which tended to be crazy, sexy stuff) I’d immediately dismiss it. NO GENRE, my brain cried!
So I didn’t write a goddamn thing from 2003 until last year.
That was stupid, and here’s two reasons why.
Genre Fiction is Awesome
When I was a teenager back in the late 90’s, fantasy was lame. Granted, I never had a problem admitting I loved fantasy, but you couldn’t be one of the cool kids if you liked D&D. (At least, I think that was the case. I was never cool enough to know…)
Thanks to the Lord of the Rings movies, HBO’s Game of Thrones, and many other fine examples, genre has gone mainstream.
And now, dude, if you don’t like genre fiction — you’re lame!
Honestly, Literature Has Always Been Weird
Hey, you know what’s a crazy idea for a novel?
Some dude wakes up in his bed, and he’s turned into a giant cockroach!
Or, some guy meets the ghost of his father and learns he’s been murdered. But instead of avenging his dad’s death, the guy just mopes around being mean to his girlfriend and contemplating suicide.
I spent twelve years waiting to have a Serious Idea for a Novel. It never happened, and honestly, my Serious Novel probably would have been crap. Some of us are destined to write about middle-aged Jewish men in New York city with crazy ex-wives (Saul Bellow’s Herzog), and some of us are destined to write about sex with Norse gods.
I know what I’d rather read.
Besides, as it turns out, high-brow literature is full of crazy ideas and highly improbably circumstances. And guess what? Real life is full of crazy ideas and highly improbably circumstances, too.
So, baby, don’t fear the genre.
Write whatever the hell you want.
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