One of the Facebook groups I enjoy most is the appropriately-named “Writers Helping Writers,” a peer group that does exactly what it says. This morning, I ran across a post from Steven Urenda, author of “Against My Religion,” that is at once funny, powerful and spot-on. In responding to a series of threads about what makes someone a “real” writer, he has created a manifesto of sorts. Steven has graciously given me permission to re-post it here:
“I’m constantly surprised by what comes up as questions in this group, a wide range asking what a “real” writer would do . . . how would he dress? Underwear or commando? Diet or regular Pepsi? Can I write after 10 pm? My doctor says I have high cholesterol; can I still be a writer? I’m writing a novel, what should it be about? My mom says writers are all bums, should I quit? Can a novelist use a laser printer or should it be an ink cartridge? Should I listen to music? Smoke Quaaludes? Eat pork? My manuscript is only 334 pages and they want 350; should I give up my writing career? How can I make sure that my novel contains absolutely zero words or letters that have ever been used before by other writers? Can I use a silent Q?
It seems like many writers in here are still waiting for someone to officially recognize them as writers, as if there’s a worldwide “legit” guild or something that stamps your cards.
Published or not, if you write, you’re a writer, and the best technique to hone your skill is to write, and keep on writing.
The formulaic approach, while I understand that it appeals to more linear thinkers, its not art, at least not pure art. And that’s okay if you need it to move units, but it’s also going to limit the expression itself within the confines of the manufactured medium, so make peace with it or be a purist, your choice.
If you’ve got something to say, say it but be passionate or at the least clever about it. I think we over-analyze the process way too much.
Here’s to the writer, the weirdo, the fringe. It’s scary committing things to paper in front of the eyes of the judging world but it’s also blissfully freeing.”