Reed is now wincing, probably, as he reads this. And thinking: "laser" wit? I'm sure she could have found a better word.
We teach together at MWA University, and it's such fun to be in the audience for his honest, irreverent and well, also reverent class. He loves writing, and the process of writing, and the reality of writing. And he's not afraid to give his fellow writers his trademark hit of tough love.
The thing my therapist, Yoda, and I are getting at is that doing is its own reward. I am not telling you that you shouldn’t fantasize about spending your millions or signing autographs. On the contrary, fantasize away. But I would urge you to find satisfaction in the act of writing itself. Enjoy the rainbow instead of looking only to what may or may not be at the end of it. It took me many years to figure that out, to let the act of writing become self-reinforcing. Once I did, my writing not only became easier, it became better. I learned to focus all my energies—most of them, anyway—on the words I was putting down, not on the end product. Each day’s writing became an end unto itself as well as part of a greater whole.
The adjunct of this notion is that you should avoid falling in love with what you produce. As I once told an editor: I have my writing and I have my children. I try to never get them confused. Your words are not precious. They are not revealed knowledge. Realize that editing is almost as important as the writing itself. And in this less-than-brave new world of e-self-publishing, you must really have the discipline to work hard at your craft and be willing to polish your work until it’s suitable for submission to an agent or publisher.
Don’t let fear of rejection drive you to self-publishing. I am not saying that self-publishing is inherently bad, though I will always have some reservations about it. What I am saying is that new writers in particular should not turn to self-publishing as a means to avoid rewriting. Criticism and rejection are part of the career, so embrace them instead of trying to avoid them.
If at the very early stages of your journey as a writer, you are open to these few suggestions, you may find that you won’t need those elusive magic pills after all.
HANK: Where are you on your writing journey? We'd love to hear. We'll give a copy of ONION STREET to a lucky commenter!
And to celebrate Reed's newest book--and Reed's journey as a writer..there's a party! (Kind of exactly what we need right now...)