Still. Something about the passing of this milestone has given me a new feeling of knowing everything. Okay, technically I can’t know everything. But I feel like I do anyway. Like, if you asked me any question at all about writing fiction, I would answer you immediately, thoroughly, informatively, and be 100% confident I was right. After all, I am the two-million-word girl.
So here is my best advice for fiction writing distilled. (There are swears. I grew up swearing a lot in the outer suburbs and I used to be embarrassed about that, but now I’m rocking my outer-suburbs upbringing because I’m a fucking expert now and nobody can say welfare class girls can’t do it.)
Write, you muthafucka! Write the fucking fiction! Don’t write blogs and marketing plans and twitter yourself in front of everyone in hopes of building a platform. Write the fucking fiction FIRST. The rest is just white noise until you have a good finished product. And it must be good. We live in an instant gratification society. You can post some nonsense while sitting on the toilet on Facebook and seventeen people can “like” it before you’ve wiped your arse. That’s not going to cut it in the world of writing fiction. You need to shape, craft, edit, prune, elaborate, make the writing BEAUTIFUL. Then, and only then, can you hold your head high in a public forum and say, “I am a writer. I write beautifully. You will know my name.”
Extreme love or go home. Don’t write to impress your father/your teacher/the literati/the fickle marketplace. Write something that comes from deep, deep down. Haul it wriggling its slimy tentacles into the light, and pin it on the page with passion and precision and care and EXTREME LOVE. It’s really hard to write a book. Why the fuck would you write one you didn’t love EXTREMELY? It’d be more fun to pull your own eyeballs out on corn skewers. And you know what the world doesn’t need more of: careless art tossed off cynically. Don’t you know that it’s a fool who plays it cool, by making the world a little colder? Or so the Beatles said.
Never compare yourself to other people. Never. It is futile, exhausting, and poisons you to the point where you don’t know what you extreme-love anymore. So somebody in your writers’ group got published ahead of you? SO FUCKING WHAT? Are you dead? Then quit complaining. If you think that somebody else’s success makes you small, then you are telling yourself your stories don’t matter. They do. Write your stories, from your heart; and if you have followed steps one and two, they will be precious and meaningful and belong in the world, even if the only audience they ever meet is a small one.
And all this is true, I know, because I am a fucking expert and I am always right.