Guest Post: “Writing For One’s Self”

Guest Post: “Writing For One’s Self”

Thanks to everyone who has offered to guest-post! You’re all wonderful people :) Please show your appreciation to all our guest posters in your comments, and don’t forget to check out their blogs.

And now without further rambling, I’ll leave Dianna to it!

And now it’s time for Guest Posts with Dianna, the part of the blog where Dianna comes out and writes a guest post.

Books. Someone’s gotta write them. And when we read them, sometimes we set them down, thinking, “I wish I’d read that book” or “I wish I’d be able to do that specific thing”.

I am very serious about that last thing. Robin Hobb has written thirteen books in a universe called “The Realm of the Elderlings”, and in the third book, she mentions an event that is wholly contained in that book. There could be more information about it, but we don’t get any–we get what we need to know for that situation. It’s never mentioned again. Until the twelfth and/or thirteenth book. Suddenly, that situation is back, only now she explains its history, its real context.

I was so jealous when I read the final books, because picking up something that was finished and over and making it even more awesome… I was really impressed with that. It was unexpected, it fit so well–she definitely deserves kudos for that. I’ve been reading the Realm of the Elderlings for about ten years or so, I think; I got the seventh book in the series as a birthday gift. Which was slightly frustrating as I like to read from the start–but I’ll give Hobb this: you didn’t *need* to start from the beginning. It was less spoilery if I had, of course, but at least everything was more or less self-contained.

So, having established that sometimes we read books and we wish we’d written them, I’d like to share another, somewhat similar wish.

I wish that people would write the books they want to.

Of course, this wish may be unrealistic. Publishing is a tricky game, by all accounts. First you have to get your manuscript noticed and… hmm. I don’t know what comes next. Mainly because nothing I’ve written has ever made it that far (I’ve done a couple of magazine pieces, but that was just a matter of ‘we’ll publish anything’, which hardly counts)–I haven’t felt like what I’d written deserved that much attention to make it worthy of trying to get that far.

So fine. Maybe if one wants to be published, one cannot write what they want, because it will be rejected. That’s… disappointing for me. It feels limiting; restrictive. I can’t write about a [something] who does [this thing] because it will be tossed on the rejection pile. Seems a good way to train writers into not listening to what their instincts say. Or so I think.

Because we have stories inside us. They have the power to reach out and touch us. Don’t see how that’ll happen. If what is in your head that made the story so good for you gets cut out… it’s not going to reach anyone. I believe that, because I agree with whoever it was that said “if it doesn’t touch you when you’re writing it, it’s not going to touch anyone when they read it”.

We are the only people who are going to write that novel where…

Where what?

That’s for your imagination to fill in. It can do that better than I can. But if we’re the only ones who can write that, why cut out anything?

I think sometimes, one does need to take a stand, to insist that their story remain as is. That’s not to say that editing shouldn’t happen. Editing has to happen. That’s an unfortunate consequence of writing.

But we edit before our words even hit the page. We won’t have this prostitute be an honest girl; no, she has to be bitter and a thief and not generally someone I could imagine anyone wanting to pay for sex. Because if we have her be an honest girl, we make it harder to get published. It doesn’t matter that our book depends on her being an honest girl.

Or maybe she is an honest girl. But no… we can’t have her be a prostitute. We’ll make her a secretary instead, maybe even imply that she slept her way to the top. See, prostitute undertones without having to actually make her one. Still marketable, yay!

Just… no.

Let’s write the book as it came to us. Let’s have her be the honest prostitute, the girl that somehow manages to be everywhere she’s needed, doing what no one else can do because she’s just that girl people use for sexytimes, and why would they think she’s dangerous?

Somehow… I have a feeling the book will be that much more interesting a read.

I came up with two examples for the novel where… They’re things suited for me to write: ideas about challenging the status quo, of sitting up and taking action. I won’t write them now; I have current writing projects that need my attention. But I’ve got the ideas.

Are they marketable? I have no idea. My guess is not; I think they’re subjects that no one wants to think about, to even acknowledge.

It’s possible I could get them published and marketed if I made it less in your face… but that’s not really my style. I like to call things as I see them; there’s no room in my stories for euphemisms. If a sex scene is called for in my story, then I’m going to write it without using ‘hot man rod’.

Of course, perhaps as a society the only way to get issues out there is to approach them sideways; obscure them under layers of happiness and food and such. Which may mean my wish is nothing more than fantasy.

That’s even more disappointing.

But these are just the thoughts of an Aussie girl who doesn’t think like everyone else does.

Dianna is a twenty-something girl living in Australia. It may be the future, but there are no robots–yet. She writes, she games, she reads. She blogs at Echoes of Dust, tweets at @moredibell and is okay with not being normal.

I have to give Di points here: she gets a VeggieTales reference in the very first paragraph. And she thought we wouldn’t notice. But we did. :)


8 thoughts on “Guest Post: “Writing For One’s Self”

  1. Excellent post Dianna – I really couldn’t agree more! I’m all for improving a manuscript – maybe your original idea just has too many holes that need fixing or adjusting in order to be workable – but being made to rework the whole thing for marketability’s sake? Not on.

  2. That’s why I love self-publishing, because you no longer need to worry about that. However, if you’re still looking to go traditional, it’s said that you should write the story as you want it, then worry about publishing and marketing after. I think that’s pretty sound advice because you’re the only person who can write that story the way you can write it. And who knows? Publishing changes so much all the time.

    1. That’s certainly true. And yes — things that would have been dubious for marketing ten years ago might be commonplace now. The world moves on, and books with it.

  3. Wonderful guest-post. I was just going to comment on the VeggieTales reference at the beginning, then I noticed the bit at the end. That was an Avengers reference, yes? :)

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