The condition every art requires is, not so much freedom from restriction, as freedom from adulteration and from the intrusion of foreign matter.
— Willa Cather
[H/T The Passive Voice]
Read a lot of stories, listen to a lot of music, and think about what the stories you encounter mean for your own life and lives of those you love. In that way, you will not be alone with an empty self; you will have a newly rich life with yourself, and enhanced possibilities of real communication with others.
— Martha Nussbaum, quoted on Brain Pickings
At this point, I should consider putting Hugh Howey on auto-retweet:
If you are twelve, and reading this right now, know that I was twelve once, too. I was twelve, and I dreamed of being a writer. I filled composition books with stories, but I never finished them. Part of that was because there was no youth NaNoWriMo group showing me what was possible. And there was no KDP or Smashwords to give me the freedom to turn my stories into books. There was no easy outlet for my rampant imagination. Now there is, but it means ignoring those who say you shouldn’t go for it.
Remember that it’s okay to write and publish just to make yourself happy, to make yourself fulfilled. There will be authors out there, readers, publishing experts, and booksellers who say that this outpouring of unprofessional drek is ruining the industry, which makes me wonder if these same people drive through neighborhoods yelling and screaming at people gardening in their back yards, shouting at them that, “You’ll never be a farmer!” Or if they cruise past community basketball courts where men and women unwind with games of pickup and shout at them, “You’ll never make it in the NBA!”
There is a kid learning to dribble a basketball right now who will go on to play shirts-and-skins, lead their high school to a national championship, get drafted in the first round and make millions, and this is no reason for the rest of us to not go out and experience the thrill of a 3-pointer heaved up and swishing right through the net. There is some parent teaching a child how to grip a putter right now and take aim at a clown’s mouth, and that kid will get a $50 million endorsement from Nike, and this is no reason not to go whack a bucket of balls after work. Implicit in the message that only some people should publish is the stance that all publishing is commercial, it’s all about making money, about being a bestseller, a pro. But that’s not the reason I do it. It isn’t why I celebrate writing and encourage people to self-publish. I’ve been doing both for a long time. So if anyone tells you that you can’t do it, that you shouldn’t do it, that you’ll never make a living at it, I urge you to agree with them. And then go do it anyway.
‘I’ve reviewed the ninth grade English syllabus and reading list prescribed by the Montgomery County Board of Education,’ he said, ‘And, after careful consideration, I have decided to dispense with it.’
There are many teachers I wish I’d had. This is one.