You’ve heard them. I’ve heard them. We’ve all probably heard them at some point. They’re old myths and bad information on what it’s like, or what you need, to be a writer.
The life of a writer is portrayed one way. But, for most everyday writers, it’s pretty far removed from that portrayal.
I hope I can add some limited clarity to what it’s like being a writer, and why these are indeed myths.
So here are 7 myths about being a writer.
If you ever write a book, I hope you’ll be able to say this when you’re finished.
Here’s what Kurt Vonnegut said about finishing Slaughterhouse Five. Read more
What happens to your manuscript after it gets approved for publishing and leaves the editor’s desk?
I thought this Random House video does a pretty good job of explaining the pre-publishing process.
Specifically, their tagging process looks useful.
If you’ve ever wanted to know what happens at a large publishing house, then here’s a small glimpse behind the scenes.
The Paris Review’s interview with Martin Amis has a load of great insight. It’s just another great one in their long series of outstanding author interviews.
I thought his answer to this question was particularly good:
This is a copy of the style sheet Ernest Hemingway used while working at The Kansas City Star early in his career as a writer.
It’s a little difficult to read. But if you can read it, there’s still a lot of good, relevant advice in there–especially considering he used it in 1917.
Hemingway said he was heavily influenced by this style sheet throughout his career.
Take a look at the PDF.
Notice the first few sentences in the top left of the page: “Use short sentences. Use short first paragraphs. Use vigorous English.”
Yeah, that’s definitely Hemingway.
Some other excerpts:
I’m not sure what I think about Elizabeth Gilbert. To be fully up-front before today’s post, I’ve never read anything she’s written, including the immensely popular Eat, Pray, Love. The premise seems narcissistic, but that’s a snap judgment without much basis.
That said, in the comments to my earlier post about Henry Roth’s 40-year writing block, lucinda032 (in a comment on this post) told me about this Ted Talk she did on that subject–the subject of coming to terms with the fact that her “best” work was behind her.
I watched the video and thought it was extremely insightful, particularly the part about how ancient Greece, ancient Rome, and the Renaissance affected people’s normal creative process. And how creativity in general shifted after that period in history.
If you have about 20 minutes to spare some time today, and you’re interested in the elusiveness of creativity, you might want to check out this talk.
Sometimes, I highlight a passage and then get all wordy about how awesome it is and how beautiful the writing is and how the author must be an angel of the pen.
Today, though, I won’t do that, even though I just kind of did.
Today, I present to you a passage from Henry Roth’s Call It Sleep–a passage completely out of context, completely foreign if you’ve never read the book. But, obviously, the passage provoked strong emotions in me or I wouldn’t be sharing it with you.
Here’s the passage:
I’m not trying to do that today, by the way.
I just thought, you know, that words are powerful, and a lot of us make instant judgments, both good and bad, after just a sentence or two or reading. First impressions apply to blogs too.
So what are some opening sentences that might turn your readers away quickly?
Let’s start today’s post with a few relevant stats:
- The average MFA (Master of Fine Arts) in Creative Writing at a public university costs in the neighborhood of $30,000, according to CostHelper.com.
- From what I’ve found on the internet (it’s very reliable!), and from my own knowledge of the freelance writing world, I would say a solid, well-connected, always busy freelance writer will make in the neighborhood of $40,000 per year.
So I guess Sinead O’ Connor recently wrote Miley Cyrus a letter about not prostituting herself to the music industry. Or something like that.
In response, singer/songwriter/independent hipster Sufjan Stevens got in on the fun, writing Miley a letter about some grammar issues in one of her new songs called “Get It Right.”