A.S. King on Writing

I stumbled upon A.S. King’s series on writing and when to use the middle finger, and found her saying so many smart things that I’m just going to give it a post of its own, and never mind if that means I post far too many linky posts this week.

Because I just can’t seem to get enough reminders that it’s okay to do what we do, love what we love, and–while always improving our craft–not try to be anyone other than the writers we are.

Part 1–The Writer’s Middle Finger: “In late February, I was skimming the internet for sites with tips for writers and I found so many of them teeming with awful, limiting advice! … I’m sure it’s true, to some degree, that to sell in certain arenas, a book has to closely resemble all books that came before it, but the idea that there are strict rules in this way, in any genre, was simply ridiculous to me. And invigorating. Because finding advice so poor reminded me that I needed to find my middle finger again to write another book.

Part 2–On Avoiding Disappointment: “Do you remember those people in junior high school who arrived in Izod sweaters, then met the weird girl in class, and suddenly chopped their hair, layered on the eyeliner, and bought a Clash album? … I like to think that writing has an adolescence period, too. Like life-adolescence, writer-adolescence is an awkward and exciting time, filled with the influence of whomever you allow in. Be careful. A few cynical thoughts from the wrong people can steer you away from yourself. There are plenty of bullies and downers and know-it-alls in this business – people who want to startle you with publishing “facts”. You need to remember why you’re here. You want to write, right?”

Part 3–Dealing With the Business of Publishing: “But I want to make this clear. Your writer’s middle finger is for when you’re writing. You have to save it for the important stuff. Save it for the days when you doubt your own vision or gut or read advice that makes you feel confined. Once you publish a book, you will feel the urge to raise that finger in all sorts of directions … If you use your writer’s middle finger to flip off things you can’t control, it will lose its magical powers.”

Part 4–When You Lose Hope: “Maybe you’re on submission and you’ve just received your 20th rejection from an editor, and no matter about the fact that your book went all the way to the editorial board, all you can see is OUR MARKETERS SAY THEY CAN’T SELL THIS, THEREFORE YOUR BOOK IS STUPID AND WILL NEVER SELL … Maybe you’re a published author and your house told you that they won’t buy your next book unless you take out the spaceships, and the book is solely about spaceships. Or that your editor has been fired and the new guy hates all spaceships. No matter the fact that you’ve published X number of books, got rave reviews, landed on lists, all you can hear is YOU WILL NEVER GET ANYWHERE IN THIS BUSINESS BECAUSE YOU’RE NOT NORMAL”

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