In today’s Journal
* Quotes of the Day
* Memorial Day
* Topic: Crawl Before You Walk
* Of Interest
Quotes of the Day
“[W]e writers are great with imagination, yet we don’t know enough about licensing and copyright to imagine what products could come from our IP.” Dean Wesley Smith
“He had just about enough intelligence to open his mouth when he wanted to eat, but certainly no more.” P.G. Wodehouse
“It is a good rule in life never to apologize. The right sort of people do not want apologies, and the wrong sort take a mean advantage of them.” P.G. Wodehouse
I passed a quiet Memorial Day. I didn’t write any fiction.
I thought specifically about some relatives, some personal friends, and some acquaintances who gave the ultimate sacrifice for this nation. I also thought about those I never knew but on whose strong shoulders we all stand today.
Then I watched the Indy 500 with my Hoosier wife and girlfriend (Oh stop it. She’s the same person.) Not a bad race. My personal faves finished 10th and 3rd. But I have to say I was glad Marcus Ericsson won since he was well on his way to winning (he had a 3 second lead at 219 mph) before race officials pulled that red-flag nonsense with only 4 laps to go.
I hope your Memorial Day was as enjoyable as ours was, or that it will be that enjoyable today if your state still celebrates the traditional Memorial Day.
Topic: Crawl Before You Walk
Note: The following isn’t about how you or I or anyone else writes. How you write is your own business. This also isn’t about craft or technique. It’s about talking smack without a license. And yes, it’s indended to be tongue-in-cheek. Well, parts of it.
There’s an old saying that you should learn to crawl before you walk. That goes for giving out advice too. First, know what you’re talking about; then talk.
I personally wish there was some sort of physical/mental interlock that would automatically interrupt a person’s ability to communicate with speech, writing, hand signals or even eye blinks when s/he is about to hold forth on something s/he knows little or nothing about.
The reason for this post is that yet again I’ve been made aware that someone heard in a social media writing group that “you have to receive critiques of your work in order to get better at the craft of writing, that otherwise you’ll never improve.”
My initial response: Oh no! So the sky really IS falling this time, Chicken Little? Yeah? Well, how about this: Shut the hell up. Stop acting as if you have the slightest clue what you’re talking about. You don’t.
Yeah, I know, it’s a free country and you can say whatever you want. I myself despise censorship. That’s why I wish there was some sort of biomechanical mechanism to keep people from blathering on from a knowledge base that holds zero data or repeating things they’ve heard but have never validated for themselves.
But I know my luck. That biomechanical thing is never gonna happen except maybe in a SciFi story (note to self). Besides, even if someone developed such a device, congress would manage to ban it. Goes against their self-interest.
But since I can’t do anything L E G A L about those morons endlessly flapping their gums in social media writer groups and in “boards” and on websites where amateur writers have wormed their way in and masquerade as professionals, doling out the same tired old advice cavemen first chiseled onto cave walls, I’ll just talk directly to you, whom I consider my learnéd choir.
Having your work critiqued is not a way to learn anything about the craft.
Having your work critiqued is how you learn to write something in a way that pleases the person who offers the critique. It’s how you learn to write your story the way someone else would write it.
But unless I’m missing something here, you aren’t someone else. You’re you.
So write your story the way you write, and keep everyone else out of it until the story’s written. Then let your first reader and/or a good copyeditor see it or just submit it for publication or publish it. But don’t rewrite it and don’t worry about pleasing anyone else.
And Practice — practice is how you get better at the craft of writing, and it is the ONLY way to get better at writing, or at any craft.
And learn — if you want to learn
1. Read for pleasure and then study the fiction of masterful writers whose work you enjoy. Then practice.
2. Take a course or online workshop on a particular craft topic from a valid source, then practice. Listen to an audio or video lecture on a particular part of craft, then practice.
3. Read a book from a valid source or a blog from a valid source on the craft of writing and then PRACTICE.
And for goodness’ sake stop spinning your wheels and testing fate by seeking critiques from ANYONE, least of all the writer wannabes who populate social media groups and other venues in their bid to feel important.
You’ve all been around long enough to know that you can write a story with no help from anyone except your characters, so just do it already.
You’ve also all been around long enough to know if you want advice on plumbing, you don’t go to a carpenter. So here are a few questions for you:
Would you allow a first-year medical student to remove your appendix or take a tumor off your brain? Or a first-year law student to defend you against a murder charge in Texas?
So why in the world would you seek advice on how to write fiction from people who either don’t write fiction at all or who have only started writing it?
To be a little more specific, why in the world would you accept advice on writing novels from any writer who hasn’t written at least a dozen novels? Or twenty? Or thirty?
And why would you accept advice on writing short stories from a writer who hasn’t written at least fifty or sixty or a hundred short stories?
Think about it. You are worth more than that, aren’t you? And isn’t your potential career as a writer worth more than that?
I can personally vouch for the fact that life is far too short to spend even a minute of it doing things that either don’t work or are self-defeating.
So stay away from social media groups and “writer boards” and other venues where young writers who don’t know Anything At All about writing constantly parrot stupid crap like, “Um, no, seriously dude, you have to invite critiques of your work in order to get better at the craft. If you don’t, like, you’ll never improve. And then, like, the world will, like, end or something.”
Notice I said they “parrot” that stuff. All they’re doing is repeating what they’ve heard, often without having tried it themselves to be sure it works, and almost ALWAYS without having tried it and succeeded. If you wonder, ask them. Maybe that will shut them up.
But again, think about it: just the fact that they can’t seem to put together a single coherent original thought on the topic should tell you something. Right?
They’re children, these people, regardless of their chronological age. They’re trying to impress you (and anyone who will listen to them) without having done anything at all that’s impressive. Are those really the folks you want to take advice from?
Talk with you again soon.
See “Licensing Expo First Notes” at https://www.deanwesleysmith.com/licensing-expo-first-notes/.
See “MS Word Keyboard Shortcuts” at https://killzoneblog.com/2022/05/ms-word-keyboard-shortcuts.html.
See “…On the Novelistic Universe of Edith Wharton” at https://www.thepassivevoice.com/yoknapatawpha-on-the-hudson-on-the-novelistic-universe-of-edith-wharton/.
The Journal…………………………………… 1320 words
Writing of Blackwell Ops 8 (tentative title, novel)
Day 1…… 2371 words. Total words to date…… 2371
Day 2…… 1305 words. Total words to date…… 3676
Day 3…… 1107 words. Total words to date…… 4783
Total fiction words for May……… 4783
Total fiction words for the year………… 10576
Total nonfiction words for May… 19900
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 79550
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 90126
Calendar Year 2022 Novels to Date…………………… 0
Calendar Year 2021 Novellas to Date……………… 0
Calendar Year 2021 Short Stories to Date… 0
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 66
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 8
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 217
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31
Disclaimer: In this blog, I provide advice on writing fiction. I advocate a technique called Writing Into the Dark. To be crystal clear, WITD is not “the only way” to write, nor will I ever say it is. However, as I am the only writer who advocates WITD both publicly and regularly, I will continue to do so, among myriad other topics.