Monday, November 29, 2010

He Can't be Unreasoned With!

I don't know how widely known this is, but at you can sign up to mailing lists on a variety of subjects (e.g. 15-minute fashion, African travel, freshwater fishing). Among the categories on offer is a crazy fringe interest labeled, 'Fiction Writing.'

Like I say, I don't know how well known this is, so this could be the blogging equivalent of saying, 'That Shakespeare, I hear he was pretty handy with words.'

However, I've been receiving updates from About Fiction Writing for a while now, and for just short of a while I've been ignoring and deleting them. Ironically enough (you'll see why in a moment), the first one I've stopped to really have a look at included a list of: 

Five Tips to Avoiding Total Disaster as a Novelist

For fear of prosecution, I won't reproduce that list. It doesn't matter, the whole thing can be seen here. What I want to do is celebrate point five:

Point 5: Ignore all reasonable sounding advice

Fantastic! My kind of advice. Upon finding it reasonable, you have to dismiss it! Here's the argument:

"Ignore all reasonable sounding advice like “write about what you know,” “read as much as you can,” or “try to write every day.” If you need to hear this advice you are in the wrong game. But more importantly, reasonableness won’t get the job done. One day in an ice-stricken back alley in Boston I saw a fat little Irishman beat the daylights out of four larger, stronger assailants. When it was over, and it was over astonishingly quickly, he brushed himself off and said simply, “I had to get unreasonable with ‘em.”

Unless you are willing to face the unreasonable in yourself -- unless you are willing to entertain some strange notions (and deal with them when they stick around) -- unless you are willing to get lost, confused and even terrified -- then what you’re doing won’t have any meaning. The famous device of conflict upon which all stories are supposed to hinge starts within the writer. You are all the characters in your dreams and so too with a novel. You can’t put your creations into jeopardy or into embarrassing or miraculous situations without going there yourself, and that is not a sensible ambition for a grown person to have. As a writer who has made more mistakes than most, my goal above all else is to be very, very unreasonable."

                                                                                         - Kris Saknussemm

Fantastic. I quite like the Fiction Writing articles. Many of them are written by published authors, some contain interviews with authors, others are market updates or news on publishing houses, this kind of thing. So, this is my li'l recommendation to have a look sometime.  

As to 'point 5' - I agree! 


Matthew Rush said...

Wow, how strange and interesting. I most certainly will have a look, thanks Wanu!

Bryan Russell (Ink) said...

Ha! Taking the counter-intuitive path. I agree it helps to be willing to risk something in your writing - to be willing to make yourself uncomfortable.

But reading all you can and writing every day sure doesn't hurt either. :)

Deb Salisbury said...

Interesting article. Thanks for the tip - I've signed up, too!

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

I love that point as well! And it's frightening to do the unreasonable thing - much easier to stay safe with your nice (boring) characters, doing nice (safe) things. :)

Anonymous said...

I love stumbling onto advice like this--and stumble I did! Too tired to read any more, I was just about to go to bed when I accidentally clicked onto this post. (I try to read all the blogs I subscribe to in one day, but sometimes--not possible!) Anyway, I'm glad I read this! Just what I needed to hear today--even if there is only an hour left before tomorrow. Many thanks!

Nate Wilson said...

That 5th point of advice does sound quite reasonable. Thus, I shall ignore it.

Thanks for bringing the article to our attention, Wanu!