“Real” Writers and what Punk has to to teach us

Good morning, everyone. The last few days have been quiet ones for me, as I have suffered my annual ankle damage and have been trying to take it easy. This has meant lots of time on the computer but also time away from the story. No big deal, though, as I’m closing in on the next phase of the novel, and it’s good to have some leisurely time to decide where to go next.

Oh, one other item of business before I go into today’s discussion: my goal is now officially to have an ebook of my novel available before the Holiday season starts. That means that this novel will be available by Black Friday. Which means I need a real plan now – draft deadlines, etc. If I’m going to attempt to go-it-alone, I have to do it like a business would. That commences today. Watch this space for more information.

But the real meat of what’s on my mind. The other night I was reading a section in Writing Fiction for All You’re Worth about the definition of a “real” writer. I liked one of the definitions of a writer that he had shared, to wit:

Yeah, that works a lot for me – in fact, that’s pretty much the definition I have always used without even being aware of it. I’ve long considered myself a writer, almost from when I started putting concepts to paper, more than 25 years ago. To be honest, the question of what a “real” writer was – and when one has “permission” to use it – had never even occurred to me.

It seemed to me that a writer was something you just were, self-evident on the face of it. “People really feel the need to quantify this?” was my realization upon reading some of this. But indeed, they do, and think pretty deeply about it. That’s fine, though, it’s probably understandable to have a certain need to feel legitimate from an external point of view, even if I don’t agree. Some defined writer status by the acceptance of the publishing industry, or the number of books in publication. No problem there, even if I disagree.

But wow was there ever an visceral emotional response to those writers who not only defined themselves by external signposts but got very self-righteous about such things.

 No plans to out anyone here, you can read the book and discover more, but one even got to the point of calling writing a holy calling. My fiancee was laughing at me by this pointbecause I was enraged and talking back to the page. I mean please now – get over yourself, you’re not some religious leader because you wrote a story and sold it to Random House. I love writing and reading, and consider it very important to human development, but get off your high horse.

This response was ultimately a good thing, though, because I realized just how strongly I’ve come to embrace and admire the DIY ethic. It’s not just a question of personal control over works (though that is an important factor) – it’s a question of personal improvement and the authenticity of the artistic experience. Say what you will about punk music, but I think the greatest thing to come out of the movement is the embracing of this ethic. From Wikipedia, a wild definition appears:

Central to the ethic is the empowerment of individuals and communities, encouraging the employment of alternative approaches when faced with bureaucratic or societal obstacles to achieving their objectives.

Rather than belittling or showing disdain for knowledge or expertise, DIY champions the average individual seeking knowledge and expertise for him/herself. Instead of using the services of others who have expertise, a DIY oriented person would seek out the knowledge for him/herself.

Within that framework, how does the person seeking definition and validation as a writer define him or herself? Why, I would suppose, by internal goalposts. Rather than looking to an agent or publisher for acceptance, shouldn’t a writer be looking to his or herself for acceptance? To me, it seems that internal goalposts are the best, always knowing that you are a “real” writer because you have that drive and desire to get the words out onto the page. I think punk had it right all this time – the desire and the drive is the important thing, not the accolades, awards, or record contracts. To that end, I realized that I have always brought something of a punk attitude to my writing, and am now planning to do so even more – the time is ripe for writers to seize the means of production and have success on their own terms. I’m really happy to see so many doing it.

Today’s featured site is LM Preston’s blog. She’s a YA Sci-Fi author who’s also following the DIY approach, essentially running her own publishing company with her husband. She has some great reviews and tips. Check it out!

“Real” Writers and what Punk has to to teach us

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