Wednesday, June 8, 2011

What's the Best Writerly Advice You'd Give Your Younger Self - Martha Flynn

Today is the start of a regular series I'm doing called "What's the best writerly advice you'd give your younger self?" (When I say regular, I mean once or twice a month.) I'm starting with a guest post from one of my NinjaTriad critique members, Martha Flynn, who is not only an incredibly talented writer, but she is just an all around fabulous human being that makes me laugh til I pee and loves food as much as I do.

So here is the fabulous Martha Flynn in her own words:



Like many writers, I can't remember a time when I wasn't telling a story.

I've taken crayola to scrap paper. I've lied through my teeth to rivet a cafeteria of classmates. When met with language barriers, I've taken a stick to the playground sandbox.

But after high school, I got my head up my ass.

I debated whether to write every day or when the muse strikes.
I was sidelined by plotting versus pantsing.
I experimented with banging out a draft versus editing along the way.
I formed opinions on adverbs because all the cool kids had one.
I wavered on whether to be well read or to come in fresh to a genre.
I crapped my pants on how to blog, tweet and facebook.
I spreadsheeted the pros and cons of traditional versus self publishing.
I looked for patterns in what's hot and what's hype.
I angsted over whether I should angst and whether I was angsting enough.

I spent an enormous amount of time and energy forming opinions, seeking the advice of others, reforming my thoughts, and beating a lot of dead, mutilated, practically cremated horses.

Worst of all, I thought I had the holy grail: answers. I become a naysayer. Nay to opening a query with a question. Nay to having a character look in a mirror to describe herself. Nay to telling and exposition. Nay to any font that isn't times new roman. Worst of all, nay to things I knew nothing about.

I'm not saying I shouldn't have explored my craft and debated the businesses and worked networking mojo and followed industry standards. A writer should do all those things.

But I shouldn't have cared so much.

The only thing I need to know, the only thing that matters, the only thing to care about, the only thing that will satisfy a true storyteller at the end of her life is story. Whether its crayola on scrap paper or an auditory show or sand carvings with a stick.

Story matters.

Everything else is noise.

Martha Flynn's love of young-adult literature is second only to her love for her family, her friends, delicious food, San Francisco, action-adventure movies, surviving the apocalypse and...well, okay, she loves a lot of things. Her contemporary young-adult fiction with paranormal flair is represented by Jennifer Mattson of The Andrea Brown Literary Agency.

10 comments:

beth said...

THIS. So much this.

Charles Gramlich said...

that naysaying is a habit of newer writers, I think. "don't do it that way. never do that." It takes a while to grow beyond that.

Erin Bowman said...

<3

Story. Always, always, always story! Thank you Martha, for sharing, and Ellen, for making this happen!

jeanneryan said...

So true! If I were the tattoo-sporting type, I'd probably get one that said "Story" (but not in Times New Roman).

jonyangorg said...

Pantsing, when in doubt pantsing. I feel like that should have a "z."

laughingwolf said...

martha, you NAILED it... and el's right, you ARE funny!

Franziska said...

Great post. We can so easily get tangled up in the minutiae and lose sight of what really matters.

Jennifer said...

Ooo, yes! I think as fledgling writers -- and maybe some more seasoned ones as well? -- we get too caught up in what the rules are, and leave behind the creativity of the thing. If there is no story, no one is going to give a fart about what font it's typed in! :)

Angelina C. Hansen said...

"The only thing I need to know, the only thing that matters, the only thing to care about, the only thing that will satisfy a true storyteller at the end of her life is story."

Amen.

Pippa said...

What, what? You mean it's NOT about writing in purple font with my underwear on my head and a pencil up my nose??? I'm SO glad I read this in time!

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