ProAm Tips #2
Always Be Closing.
If you don’t know that reference, there’s nothing I can do for you. Except maybe offer you some modified advice:
Always Be Finishing. Finish everything. Finish every poem, every song, every snippet and sub-clause. Finish ever short story. Finish every LONG story. Finish ever book. This is the best advice there is for writers. You see, the definition of writer, to me, is one who writes. You have to write. You have to immerse yourself in the words. You have to immerse yourself in the worlds. You have to read, write, and understand. You have to NOT understand. You have to struggle to get what you don’t understand. You have to bang your head against it over and over. You need to be a writer if you’re going to write. You have to experience every part of the process, AND THAT INCLUDES THE VICTORY OVER YOUR WORK.
How can you keep writing if you don’t know WHY you’re doing it? You need to know what that feels like, the satisfaction of finishing a poem. A song. A short story. A limerick. A long story. A book.
The very first book I wrote I didn’t finish. Nor the second. Nor the fifth. The seventh book I started, I finally finished. Hooray for me! Now what?
I realized there are no bad ideas, only bad execution. So i went back and finished my first book. It sucked. I went and finished my second book. It, too, sucked.
Half of them sucked.
The other half I completely re-wrote… because I’d LEARNED something. And what I learned is a combination of anger, and fatigue, and stubbornness, and unruly night sand dragging days and all kinds of horrible lessons, and a divorce, and several jobs, and an long-term illness, and-
What I learned is that life goes on, no matter what you do. You can’t get any of those precious seconds back. You can’t afford any missteps. You can’t afford any mistakes. Any false starts.
And the hell of it is, you’re going to make them ANYWAY. You can’t afford them, but you’re going to make them anyway. So, finish them ALL. Train yourself to never walk away. The poet Paul Valery said “No poem is ever finished, merely abandoned.”
Sounds neat, huh? I lived by those words my whole writing life.
You finish, and you walk away. And you work on the next thing. And if you don’t want to look back at your life and see all those books and poems and songs and shit that COULD have been… you better man or woman up and fucking glue yourself down and FINISH THEM.
Do it for your self esteem. Because when you sit down, you need to KNOW, not think, not hope, KNOW that you’re going to pull a piece of work out of thin air and bring it into the world. That YOU and YOU ALONE are responsible for the life you make.
Sounds deep, right?
It’s tripe too.
At the end of the day, you’re going to do you, and I’m going to do me. Why should you listen to me? Beats me. Because I’ve written a dozen books? Maybe. Because I’m on the net? God no. Because I know how you feel?
That’s not a bad one.
Because I DO. I know how you feel. I know how you think. I know how you write. I know how you struggle. We all do. Best-selling authors, and those weird people you see cramped into booths at Starfuck’s coffee hoping against hope they’ll be the next J. K. Rowling.
I do. I know. I know they don’t have a fucking prayer if they don’t finish their neo-noir-steampunk-adaptation-goth-post-naturalist-modern-emo-purist-visual-novel-article-first-third-person-expository-semi-autobiographical-urban-fantasy-truism.
ABF, baby. Always Be Finishing. ABF.