It may just be my contrary nature, but this week I don’t feel right giving beginning writers “pointers.” I may or may not be able to write worth a damn, and I may have a career to speak of (I’m making a living writing full time…so I guess that’s a “yes.”) But if there’s one thing I wouldn’t suggest, it’s doing it “like Thomas Roche did.” For your writing career overall, you’re a hell of a lot better taking thirty-year-old advice from the likes of Lawrence Block than you are getting it from me. His advice may be a lot more out of date, but he’s a lot smarter.
However, Lawrence Block didn’t fuck up as much as I did. Or…let me put it a different way. Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t, but it took him five decades to do it. So I’m the one who’s probably more qualified to tell you about that. And that’s what I’ll do.
Keep in mind, “fucking up” for one writer is different than for another writer. I’m going to tell you a bunch of things I wish I’d done differently; this does not mean you should not do those very things. It just means I wish I hadn’t done them. If I lapse into the second person, it’s because I really mean I think “you” are likely to find something to be be true…but please note that I’m well aware that I may be full of it. One thing I’ve found in writing about writing is that other writers who write about writing are peculiarly willing to disagree with each other, so anyone who’s had a different experience of the marketplace, please feel free to chime in down in the comments. In fact, most of what I’m going to put below is based on no “conventional wisdom” at all, but in personal experience, which may be narrow. So please chime in with your contradicting experience (or a different interpretation of similar experiences).
I made my first professional sale in 1987, so next year I’ll get to celebrate twenty-five years of running around in circles like a chicken with my head cut off. Is that evidence that I must know something? Or proof that I must not know squat?
Either way, here are ten things I did wrong. (more…)Read More...