Earlier this week, I finally got around to reading On Writing by Stephen King. There were so many things about his writing that I adore, and this book was no exception. But this isn't a book review.
I've read a lot of writing books - books on grammar, books on publishing, whether on not you're qualified to write, whether you should even bother trying. The market has never been fiercer, making it all the much harder for new authors to get noticed. When I finished reading these other books, despite having an undertone of you-will-probably-fail-so-why-bother-trying attitude, I always finished feeling more determined than ever. I would show them wrong. I would, will, work hard and get my book published and make a name for myself.
On Writing is the first book on the subject that has terrified me.
Stephen King won't train you in grammar perfection. He does something even better. He tries to make you a better writer - not a perfectionist. He urges you to improve your craft, to sit and actually write as opposed to sitting in class after class on creative writing. Read a lot, write a lot. That's pretty much his message.
The other message, and this is the one that terrified me, was to write the truth. This doesn't necessarily translate to write what you know, which is the more popular saying, which can be useful too. It means be true to your writing, to speak honestly and most importantly - have your characters speak truthfully. The worst thing you can do as a writer is to censor yourself.
It's inevitable that you can't please everyone. You can't come close. There are always going to be people who don't like a certain scene because it upsets them, or offends them or just plain ticks them off. Hell, as a writer there are some scenes I hate doing because it upsets me. But the point is, if you start censoring and writing perfectly with no cussing or offending people will never get to the heart of your story. Why? Because it won't have one.
On Writing terrified me because as usual when finishing a writing book, I got a burst of determination. Only this time it wasn't to prove anyone wrong...it was to prove someone right. I am now determined to push myself and my writing further, to take the scary steps and jump without looking back.
I like to think I'm pretty open minded with what I write. I swear a lot, I write dialogue that I think is realistic. But I hold back. There is that tiny part of me that doesn't push my characters to their very limits because I can't bear too. I don't hurt them because it hurts me too. Only another writer will know what I mean by this. Everyone else will just think I'm crazy. Which I kind of am sometimes, but that isn't the point here.
Life isn't censored, so why, when writing, would anyone expect anything different? Life hands us all kinds of crap. Life isn't a Disney movie where everything always works out for the best. Sometimes life sucks. It's just the way it is.
But...sometimes life can be wonderful. And those are the moments that outweigh the scary ones, the ones I'm afraid to write.
I'm taking the leap. Anyone care to join me?