Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Anonymous Receptive Audience


I’m suffering from Advice Overload.


There’s plenty of it out there in the Blogosphere, and much of it is way too good for a wretch like me.

So — adverbs, adjectives, participial phrases; the Top Ten Tips for better narrative; the Top Zillion Zillion Zillion. All subsumed, then regurgitated live down the fibre optic superhighway of my nervous system to the tip of my pen.

And the result of this glut of good advice?

Paralysis.

So I’m indebted to Nicola Morgan over at Help I Need A Publisher for her post about walking like an editor.

To summarise, her point is that writers need to think like editors thinking like readers, which is almost zen-like in a Paper Scissors Stone sort of way. In the comment trail, I made some spurious remark about how John Simm’s Master (from Dr Who) is probably a writer bombarded by this sort of advice — and let me qualify now, Nicola’s is a great, great blog (hence the link).

“the constant...drumbeat...in my head...”

But I’m full to bursting at the moment, and this has to be my last intake for a while. I slop my eyeballs onto the monitor screen, I do, and try to suck it all up. And all those other blogs on my roll. It’s like blowing up balloons inside other balloons, only instead of balloons it’s the presences of unwanted phantoms haunting the phantoms I actually want to write about. As I said: paralysis.

So it’s back to the plan that always seems to work.

Back to writing for the Anonymous Receptive Audience, whoever they may be.

24 comments:

latvialovedoll1877 said...

i want you. i make beutiful pastry you like. crusty or crunchy u decide. we walk my dogs then get hot hot hot. i study geometery and im famous one day.hot brunete. kinky

stacy said...

Yes, too much advice can be hard on the brain.

fairyhedgehog said...

Sometimes you just have to say "sod it".

Whirlochre said...

It certainly seems to be the right hat for the job at the moment...

McKoala said...

It's getting serious between you and latvialovedoll1877.

At the end of the day, to write, you have to write. That's either incredibly profound or incredibly stupid.

Why are you reading this anyway? You should be writing!

Dave King said...

Thanks, that's a hell of a lot more useful than most on the same subject. So I'll have to check her out.

Robin S. said...

Your voice is your voice, and that's a damn good thing. If you take everyone's advice, you'll lose your voice. You've already learned to tell a story with your voice, so just keep writing and finishing your own good work, lest you end up sounding pablumized like the people who take all of the writing advice and bend their own unique voices (if they have them) to the 'greater will' - which is often wrong.

I think of it this way - Hemingway didn't take votes on his writing style. Instead, he grew into a pack of writers in Paris, and they became their own force. If he'd stayed the same as everyone else - no one would know his fucking (or non-fucking) name today. I think finding and cultivating a group of people who 'get' you is a much better way to go than worrying about what everyone and their freakin' mamam had to say onthe subject - none of whom are remotely as good as Hemingway.

ALSO - an editor from a very-well-respected U S publisher did a line edit on my first three chapters (I'd won him at auction, paid a chunk for the privilege) and I could tell from his notes, he sucked as an editor. didn't get at all what I was doing. Sucked large ones. So you can't take what pros say to the bank, either. Some of them are a waste of time.

Whirlochre said...

McKoala
The weirdo bear girl, she speak sense...

Dave
Nice to see you once again. Nicola's is a very informative blog. Well worth dropping into. Quality visitors and lots of good links.

Wrobin
I love your verbal kick-ass karate.

Heeeee-yaaaah!

Hwaaaaah-Haah!

Yeeeeeeeeeeee-Yaaaaaah!

Mother (Re)produces. said...

Yeah. This is the reason I've sort of pulled back from writing anything for kids. You think the rule overkill is bad on the whole? Try writing a picture book. (actually, I think whirl would write crackin' PBs :)

Whirlochre said...

Me writing kids' books?

Whatever next?

Kiersten White said...

Actually, I'm going to second the kids' book idea. Maybe the adventures of Maurice? Just leave the LatvianLoveDoll out of it.

And yes. Advice is advice is advice. Write what you write how you write it. The rest comes later, I've found. Which is why I very rarely endeavor to give any sort of writing advice on my blog. Who on earth would want to write the same way I do?

Although I do envy you your turn of frippulous phrases, and wouldn't mind borrowing that skill. Whipplewhite Wahoo, indeed.

Whirlochre said...

A thought occurs to me: I'd better check up on that wayward mule. Haven't seen him in a while.

And you're right about advice. There's plenty of stuff out there that's been (and continues to be) a tremendous help, but in the end (to echo the fearsome koala), there's no substitute for writing (though why you'd want to echo a fearsome koala in full frenzy mode, I have no idea — the shriek is said to break glass, warp wood and unstitch the hem on most of the gents' trousers from M&S). And of course, as Wrobin says (forgive me — it amuses me), the best bit about being us is that we haven't been done yet (and that's paraphrasing btw).

As for Whipplewhite Wahoo, I'm guessing orange & vanilla.

McKoala said...

Just don't wear the BHS trousers. The crotch comes unstitched on them.

Bernita said...

After while, the overload of advice just makes my head hurt and then I all I can do is damn the torpedoes.

Robin S. said...

Heh. Crotch unstitched....heh...but I digress.

Stick with your voice and ignore all the frenetic quasi-all-knowing hooplah bullshit crowded like circled wagons of hell around writers out on the ether of the net. If the freneticizers were actually good, they wouldn't be so loud oabout being so all-knowing. They'd have shut the fuck up long ago, because they wouldn't have needed the attention for the potential paychecks said freneticizing brings them.

writtenwyrdd said...

Well, everybody has an opinion. The thing is that you must discover your voice, your style of writing, for yourself. And you must be confident in sticking to the voice you want for the writing, regardless of howling disagreement from anyone else.

That doesn't mean that they cannot have useful input; but you can't let that destroy your confidence in your inner compass.

My suggestion: If the advice doesn't seem to fit, ignore it at the moment. Perhaps later it might come back to you and you might heed it then; but unless/until, just chuck it in the mental obliette.

Whirlochre said...

McKoala
Two things:
1) Do I seem to you like the sort of bloke that wears BHS trousers?
2) You seem to know more about stitching than I had previously suspected.
My Inner Koala mutateth...

Bernita
I think that's exactly it. All good advice is welcome, but sometimes, it's too much and sometimes it takes a while to disseminate before you're ready for more.

Wrobin
In the end, that's what it boils down to, whatever stage you're at. And if that sounds like a spectacular generalisation, it isn't. That's actually the sharpest observation I've made all week. because your point was so clear.

WW
My inner compass seems more or less fine — it's the inner parrot on the shoulder of the inner editor pirate lord that's causing me problems. The blighter pecks the hair from my nostrils at every available opportunity.

fairyhedgehog said...

Whirl, I don't know what kind of bloke wears BHS trousers but I had you down as wearing a kilt.

Whirlochre said...

Given the snow we've had recently, I decided to downgrade from a pretend kilt to a duvet.

fairyhedgehog said...

I wonder what a pretend kilt looks like.

Must. Not. Go. There.

A duvet is certainly warm but few people have adopted one as street wear.

Whirlochre said...

What about that gangsta rappa from St Louis?

Snoop Toggy Tog?

McKoala said...

Yes.

*ducks*

Proof: wasn't there a pic of you wearing a cagoule a year or so ago. And they match BHS acrylic soooo well.

sylvia said...

It's never previously occurred to me that there *were* men who wore BHS trousers, although I suppose there must be. Who are they?

I am finding that advice jumps up and down and waves its hands at me shouting COOOOEY when I'm at a point of needing that piece. So if something doesn't make me immediately feel "hey, that makes SO MUCH sense!" then I sort of pass it by, presuming that it'll be around again later to try to make its point.

I'm probably missing all sorts of goodness, of course, but at least that leaves me time for cyberstalking.

Whirlochre said...

Thanks for that, Sylvia.

I suspect I'm at the point of Blog Overload — ie, there's an abundance of potentially useful info out there that even someone with 48 hours a day to spare couldn't get round in under a year.

So we just have to hang with our finity & partial ken, trusting (as you say) that the really important stuff will catch up with us one way or another.