Stuff worth reading

First, a quick administrative note: I am so sorry if you’ve recently had any problems with posting comments here! Apparently all comments are going into the spam folder, and I didn’t notice until a few days ago. Now that I know, I’ll keep a better eye on things, as well as search for a fix.

“Literary Talent vs. Story Talent” by Ingrid Sundberg

It was an important milestone in my personal writing journey to realize that these were not the same thing. In fact, I often find I might agree with McKee’s statement that story talent is rare. When a book is weak, it is seldom the literary writing that has disappointed me, but the design and telling of the story itself that I have problems with. Additionally, books lacking in beautiful phrases and witty dialogue, somehow still have me turning pages because the design of the story is so good.

“On the Joys of Not Finishing What You Started” by Michelle Richmond

Our impulse as writers is to attempt to salvage the words, to make good on the promise we made to ourselves when we penned the very first line. While there is beauty in perseverance, sometimes the best thing you can do for a story is let it go, and give yourself the freedom to begin again.

“Publishing Does Not Want to Eat Your Heart” by Maggie Stiefvater

It just doesn’t care that you exist.

I’ve always been fine with that. I don’t need Publishing to be my friend. I don’t even need Publishing to like me. As a writer, I’ve just wanted Publishing to give me a career. And as a reader, I’ve just wanted Publishing to give me books I want to read.

That last sentence is going to be my thesis statement for this entire blog post, so maybe I should put it in bold.

Publishing tries to give people books they want to read.

And finally, if you’ll indulge me, my own post “How to Serve and Swallow Criticism” is up at Writer Unboxed today.

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3 Comments

  1. Very much worth reading.

    #2: I always think it’s a shame when writers take persistence too far. Is it important to keep writing? Of course. But any given story should be shelved if it isn’t working.

    People who make movies wish they had the flexibility that writers have to stop a project in the middle. :-)

    #3: People get weird about Publishing, as if it’s anything other than an industry. Publishing companies are no different from companies that make tires or hand lotion. As Maggie says, they are trying to put out a product that will sell.

    Which is always my argument when people get all “Oooh, they’re the gatekeepers of quality.” Nope, just the gatekeepers of what they think people will buy.

    II replied to your Writer Unboxed post over there.

  2. Jon

    I don’t know if I agree with Michelle! I’ll have to read her blog post, but there’s something to writing out a story, the entire story, even if it is bad, and keeping it around. I am surrounded by stories that never got off the ground, but they’re like old friends. You always want them around.

    And who knows? I mean, nobody expected Confederacy of Dunces to win the Pulitzer, least of all its author.

  3. Jon, your reply really made me think, because, on one hand, my original comment still seems right, but further reflection has made me realize that I’m proposing an out that I never take, and in fact I couldn’t take, since I write serial fiction, so I pretty much have to finish what I start.

    I still think it’s okay if other people want to stop, though. :-)

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