Writing a book? What you’re doing right.

A blog post popped up on my computer today that angered me. Designed for writers, it was headed, ‘What you’re doing wrong’. It’s not the first time I’ve encountered headings like this. I just won’t read negative blog posts. Tell me, how to do something, yes, but negative nancies can go confuse someone else.

Why must we constantly focus on the word ‘wrong’? This insinuates writing is going to be marked. We’re not in school, it’s not, readers will decide when they flick to page 1 and then buy our book. If it’s not their taste, well, that’s life.

It annoys me when someone tries to impose their opinions on another. Just because someone disagrees with someone else’s style, it doesn’t mean that person is right, and by implication that the other person is ‘wrong’. There’s that word again!

Stylistic decisions are individual, that’s your voice, don’t let someone else say you’re ‘wrong’, because as Neil Gaiman says: “Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.”

Writers are already plagued with self doubt, why must we make it harder for ourselves to navigate the writing path? Writers do not need to be told their writing voice is ‘wrong’.

If you’re doing some or all or more of these things, you’re on the right path:

  1. “Read, read, read,” to quote William Faulkner (heck, A LOT of people say the same thing a variety of ways).
  2. Write everyday: writing everyday makes your writing flow. Set up your “tortoise enclosure”. And if you don’t know what that is, and are curious, Google: “John Cleese, tortoise enclosure.”
  3. Learn your craft. Learn the difference between passive v active voice, learn grammar, learn pace, learn point of view, learn dialogue, learn character development. And just when you think you’re grasping the basics, you’ll find there’s even more to learn. There’s always room to grow. There’s always someone who you can learn from, no matter their age.
  4. Read aloud: this allows you to pick up missed words and listen for lyricism.
  5. Write something you love, not something for the market.
  6. Get involved with the writing community and have your work critiqued. My work improved exponentially after I joined in, after resisting for damned too long. I wish I’d done this step differently. And remember, when you critique, praise the good as well the confusing. If we don’t know what the heck is working, how on earth do we develop the good stuff?

Can you think of anything else?

Every been so scared, your heart jumped?

Welcome to one of the after-effects of my stroke. If someone abruptly coughs, or puts plate on the bench, or there’s an unexpected bang on the TV, like a T-bone car crash, or a dog bark, or a dropped plate, I literally jump through the roof. No joke, my heart jumps so much, this condition kindly bestowed on me post-stroke, will not just make me jump one day, it will trigger a heart attack.

They’ll write ‘died of fright’ on my tombstone.

I’m sure there’s a medical term for this, but a term doesn’t describe what it’s like to live with this.

For example, I cringe anytime someone drives a car in TV or movies. T-bone car crashes are such cliches, any car shot, I anticipate a crash, no matter the genre. And I certainly make sure I don’t drink. If I jump while holding a drink … well, it’s not pretty. My hand violently jerks, water spills from my cup –  taking on a life of its own – and leaps into the air. Water splatters my clothes and drips over my wheelchair. Then it hits the floor like thrown paint – a Pro Hart masterpiece. I’m surprised water hasn’t ended up in my hair yet. My husband laughs at me, but gets just desert – he has to clean it up. Ah, there is sweet justice.

And my wonderful kids take pleasure in seeing me jump. They laugh and laugh and laugh. Soon, they’ll start scoring who makes me jump the most. Lucky for me, it’s too ‘cringe-worthy’ for them to read my blog, or I would’ve just given them a new game.

On the weekend, I binge-watched a show on Netflix. I won’t say which one and give spoilers. They happened to walk on the ledge of, say, a ten story building. It was obviously fake. Did that matter? No siree. Even typing about it days later, recalling the image, I’m woozy. Thankfully, with Netflix, I can just jump forward. Not so with a movie.

Going to the movies is a real fun time for me. I know Hollywood uses a green screen, but you try and convince my brain of that. Movies with heights? I end up watching the ‘Exit’ sign or my shoes. Any height, no matter how fake, makes me jump so much I nearly fall out of my wheelchair. As if being in a wheelchair didn’t come without enough challenges.

I’ve been startled in the movies, and I wear choc tops, slurpies and popcorn. In truth, movies are’t the greatest choice for me. I should start wearing an apron. Imagine the looks that’d earn!

The earth-type shots of End Game (or was it Captain Marvel?), those taken above the atmosphere, are just too much for me. I try to look, but even they overwhelm me. Of course, I’m a movie-goer at heart, so I’ll just grin and bear the dizzying heights. It is what it is. I have this ‘perk’ for life.