Here are some thoughts on writing fiction. These aren’t directed at any individual; they’re just my personal musings about the craft and profession.
First, I believe good writing is a craft that must be learned and cultivated over a lifetime. Sure, there are distinctive personality traits that draw a person to the profession, but more important is the time and energy that person puts into honing their voice, playing with syntax, polishing dialogue, developing descriptions, bringing characters to life, and building tension. These are the framework of a good story, and without them, a writer is much like a carpenter who can’t hammer straight or read a tape measure.
Also, there seem to be two major categories of writers: the artist and the mercenary. I don’t mean the latter as a pejorative, simply an observation of fact. Last weekend, I heard from several of my peers that they write whatever sells. Please, don’t misunderstand. I’m all for making money and don’t begrudge them pursuing it, but as an artist, I’m more interested in developing the story that’s authentic to me. If the money never follows, so be it. I write because I have to, not because of the potential for making money, and since I have to write, I choose to create what matters to me, not what happens to be hot at the moment. If the day arrives when I write about sparkly, wimpy vampires other than as a satire, that’s the day I’ve crossed over from artist to mercenary. Of course, by that point, the new hot thing will be transgender zombies with a penchant for needlepoint, or something equally absurd.
Finally for this entry, I think the artistic writer needs to be subversive to a degree. The current trend in society is a degradation of manners, etiquette, and general decency. As an artist, I reject that trend, and my act of subversion is to carry myself as a professional, treating others with respect and dignity, unless they happen to piss me off. Then, it’s both barrels. But in general, I make a conscious decision to be polite and not give in to the decline of civilized behavior. I refuse to play the “I’m cool” game that pervades the music industry and Hollywood because that’s not my nature and not my character. I also refuse to follow the crowd. I’m an independent, free-thinking person who conducts himself, most of the time, as respectful and courteous, and I tip my hat to my fellow writers, both mercenary and artist, who do likewise.
Those are my thoughts for now. I hope to write more about the craft of writing soon.