i subscribe to a wicked awesome website called letters of note. and while i could discuss letter-writing in an entire series of blog posts – which i won’t do, don’t worry – there was a post recently that really sparked my imagination.
apparently, in 2009 a book was publish – only in england, i gather – called dear me: a letter to my sixteen-year-old self in which some individuals of note wrote a letter to their sixteen-year-old self. letters of note posted a small handful of these letters in this post.
ever since reading the post, i have been a bit preoccupied with the advice i would give my sixteen-year-old self.
so… here goes:
dear younger b,
get used to the adjectives “strange,” “weird,” and “odd.” these will be used at you and against you until you are cold in the grave. don’t worry too much about it – who wants to be “plain” or “normal”? i know the answer to this: you do. embrace the fact that you are not plain or normal. it’s one of the best things about you.
you will make a few really good friends. cherish them and do all that you can to keep them. these friends will shape who you are and teach you things no one but they can teach.
that boy you’re going to kiss in ireland next summer? keep in touch with him. he turns out to be a real hottie!
trust your intuition. it is right 99.9% of the time. and when it’s wrong? trust it anyway. your life will be more interesting for it.
dance big. sing big. love big. write big. live big. and fear nothing.
– older b
p.s. get used to taking meds. they will serve you well.
now… go write yourself a letter! (and if you do, post a link. i’d love to read it.)
that’s one thing i appreciate: really good utensils.
anne riley has been kind enough to provide me with a forum to have a discussion with one of my short story characters, simon. most interesting:
character invastion – simon
thank you so much, anne!
WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW
“write what you know.” ugh! this advice is so ubiquitous that writers – particularly this writer – can’t help but play it in a subconscious loop at all times of the day and night.
and with that glorious mantra must necessarily come the question, “but what do i know?
for the moment, we’ll set aside the concern that no one anywhere would ever want to read what i know and i’ll quickly create a list:
what i know:
- mental illness
- stage management
- events industry
- family law
- being tall
- wearing glasses
- having short hair
okay…maybe i’m grasping at straws there at the end.
[so… much to my surprise, upon writing this list i have realized that i know about some things that might make for interesting writing. hm.]
but now i have to ask: do i know enough about any of these things? am i willing to devote innumerable hours and immeasurable energy focusing on any of these things? wouldn’t i rather be eating, knitting, sleeping, travelling and being tall rather than writing about it?
plus, i have heard it said that the surest way to spoil the thing you love is to study it. does this apply to subjects of writing? will i suddently want to hand in my passport if i write about wanderlust? will i stop eating good food if… well, that’ll never happend, so i’m not even going to finish that question.
and yet, what else would i write about? i can’t credible write about being an astrophysicist. and it would take a lifetime of research (and school and money and time) to get just enough knowledge to write about an astrophysicist.
[also… i would like to acknowledge that this level of over-analyzing is my very own favorite way of procrastinating.]
so, i ask you: “write what you know.” to heed or not to heed?
my six-sentence flash fiction “three bedrooms” was published today! dig it:
i was a prolific writer in my day. of course, “my day” was approximately 20 years ago. in high school and college, i wrote angsty poems and stories with angsty heroines in love with tragic heroes. was the writing any good? probably not. did i write anyway? absolutely.
thankfully, most of my angst is imprisoned on 5-inch floppy disks with no possibility of parole. which is just as well. the point is: i wrote. and i wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote. i didn’t care if the writing was any good. i didn’t care if it was ever publish. it was a carefree pursuit.
sometime in the past two decades, i started caring. and in caring, i found the fear and trepidation that is – apparently – common amongst writers: what if no one likes what i write? what if i write something good and can never write anything else? surely no one will want to read what i have to say. the list is never-ending.
and while i’ve ventured into noveling by way of nanowrimo, i think the salvation of my writer’s ego is not in the overwhelming all-you-can-eat buffet of the novel, but in the elegant petit fours of flash fiction. small victories.
my flash adventures begin here:
i invite you to join me. go on… it’s only a wee commitment.