It’s been a tough old week – where keeping this blog ticking over is all I’ve been able to manage on the writing front. Like the title of this blog, I’ve been dreaming of other realms, but have had little time to sit down and coax them onto the page. And as Thursday rolled around I was getting nervous; the inspirational well was looking pretty dry.
They say all things come to those who wait, and I was fortunate enough to find this week’s inspiration in my inbox, hidden away in Joe Warnimont’s Write With Warnimont newsletter. Nestled in the middle of all sorts of writing goodies was this link to Neil Gaiman’s commencement speech to the 2012 graduating class of the University of the Arts (Philadelphia), with a note suggesting it might help ‘strengthen your own writing motivations’.
Well my writing motivations certainly needed a little strengthening, and it turned out Neil Gaiman is as a good a motivational speaker as he is a writer, because 20 minutes later I was feeling much better. In fact I was once again excited to be a writer.
There are many, many gems in this speech, but the one that stood out above all others was his call to ‘make good art’. And if I had to distill it down even further – make your kind of good art.
For me, I’m dead set on writing, and being the best kind of writer I can be. To that end I’m learning everything I can about the art of writing, connecting with other writers and writing as often as I can find the time.
Yet the biggest stumbling block I’ve hit has been the rules: You shouldn’t write in more than one POV, you shouldn’t use adverbs (weed out those proverbial dandelions), prologues are a no-no, and write for your market. All of these rules have merit, but at times, have also squashed – or at best dented, my creative efforts.
Spy an adverb in my writing – any adverb – and I start second guessing myself. Tear my hair out trying to figure out which one of my POV characters could tell this story solo and do it justice. Point blank refuse to lose a prologue, because right now the scene is by far the best way to start this book (book 3 for those checking over my WIP). Oh and don’t get me started on my potential readership or genres…
I know some of you will read this and have an overwhelming urge to remind me that many of the writing rules provide the structure of good writing – ignore at your own peril. And to an extent I agree – trust me I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel. I guess what I liked about Gaiman’s speech was, the reminder that the most important thing is the art itself. Creating it, enjoying it, and hopefully oneday other people will like it enough to pay for it too.
Only time will tell if it’s marketable or not, but right now I’m in the phase of creating the best kind of writing art I can. The kind that makes my heart sing when I read it – the story that blows my mind first and foremost. So thank you Neil Gaiman for reminding me to trust my our own voice, get vulnerable on the page and create art that I’m truly proud of.