Thursday, November 14, 2013

Piece of Advice

So the semester is coming to an end. We only have one author left! It seems like this semester went by faster than previous ones. Anyway, as I am here contemplating how fast time has gone by, I was thinking about the things I have learned this semester, especially in this class. I wanted to ask you guys about the things you have learned about writing in this class? I think we had the unique opportunity to actually get to meet published authors. They gave us so much advice, and although I know we have one author left, what have you guys learned from them? What piece of advice will you carry with you for the rest of your life?

Personally, the piece of advice that I think has stuck with me is to read. A few of the authors told us that in order to be a good writer, you must first be a good reader. When I was a child, I read a lot. Even through high school most of my afternoons were spent reading. However, these past couple of years I have found myself avoiding books. I do read the textbook pages assigned but I no longer feel like I have time to read more of my favorite authors. Because of this class, I think that will have to change. I will look for that extra hour in my day to dedicate to a book. More than ever I think that reading is very important.


  1. I think Demetria Martinez's advice to sit down in front of an open word document or blank page is some of the best advice we've received. I have tried it, and it works. If you find the time to sit down and do it every day, then something will come to you. It's very useful for getting in the habit or when you don't feel like writing.

    And it wasn't exactly advice, but Melinda Snodgrass said that she believes any kind of writing can be good when taken seriously. I'll remember that because I thought it was encouraging. People tend to make you feel guilty if you like to write fan fiction, and then you wonder if you're wasting your time. But I think she had a good point, and as long as you write, any writing is good.

  2. I think for me I took a little piece of advice from all of our guest authors. I usually don’t write anything except papers and like Karla said I don’t read as often as I did when I was a kid. The only reason I read is, because of these types of honors classes. It is sad, but true. I learned a lot about writing and the creative process. And it doesn’t matter if you are writing for your readers, yourself, or a combination of both as long as you enjoy writing something you like and you enjoy the journey it takes to write the novel, play, poem, short story, etc.

  3. To me I also took advice from all of the authors. I felt that Daniel Abraham gave some of the best advice about not being discouraged if your writing is not always accepted with positive feedback. He really opened my eyes that it takes practice to become a good writer and that no person was a pro from their first work. His 'game' about sending in manuscripts and having another one going out as soon as the last one came back was quite inspiring. He taught me that I need to be optimistic in terms of my writing.

    Another part of good advice was to keep writing no matter what it is. A journal, short prose, maybe even a blog. I found that really helpful since I had kept a journal for over a year and recently I had slacked off and I hadn't written as much as I had. This taught me to keep writing at least once every two days, if not every day. I don't write in my journal as much as I did but it is helpful to have the encouragement to keep writing.

  4. This has become one of my all-time favorite classes. I have recommended to ALL of my friends in honors. The opportunity to meet these authors and learn from them and ask them questions has been amazing. Not only do I now have an awesome collection of signed books, but I have an awesome collection of advice.
    From Michael Tomas and Butterfly Kisses I learned that writing for yourself or your family and friends is perfectly OK.
    From Steve brewer and A Box of Pandoras I learned about character development.
    From Melinda Snodgrass/ Phillipa Bornikova and Box Office Poison I learned that inspiration comes from anywhere and that you can write different genres safely with different pseudonyms.
    From Kate Horsley and X &O I learned to be honest.
    From V.B. Price and Chaco Trilogy I learned that location and setting are important to a story
    From Daniel Abraham and The Cambist and Lord Iron I learned that I don’t know why I write, and I will be working on answering that question.
    From Margaret Randal and My Town I learned to value my perspective.
    From Demitria Martinez and Block Captain’s Daughter I learned that writing can be a tool.
    There are other lessons that I have learned that on don’t remember who said, or that more than one author said:
    READ! It has already been mentioned, but it is a big one. I love to read. If I didn’t feel so guilty after doing it, I would probably read 24/7. Next semester I will be entering graduate schoo,l and I will be taking a sort of break by only taking one, three credit course. I will still be working, but I should have a lot more free time to read whatever I want. I will also have time to…
    WRITE! Many authors, I believe, suggested that writing is something you have to practice constantly. I would love to be able to put aside an hour or two EVERY day to write, or to just sit in front of a screen/page and wait for inspiration. Inspiration is not easy, which is why I will also…
    CARRY AROUND A NOTEBOOK, or a note card, or something to jot down random inspirations. I try to do this already, but I think having it in my backpack is a little to inaccessible. I would like to try to carry note cards like Demitria Martinez suggested. They are small and will fit in my pocket, and I have small “mini” pens that would also fit in my pocket.
    We also learned a lot about publishing books and the different methods available to us (self-publishing vs. using a large publishing company, if you’re lucky, or an independent or university publisher). We also learned about eBooks vs. paper/hardback books.
    I’m sure there is more that I am missing, but these are the major lessons that I remember.
    For someone who would love to someday become a professional writer, this advice has been extremely valuable. I would love to stay in the loop of future offerings of this course so that I can come to the public talks and learn more!

  5. I think I appreciated Daniel Abraham's advice most as a collective. His 'performance' philosophy was something I hadn't heard before, and his realistic perspective on the craft of writing--the need for flexibility, especially--was what I'd been hoping to get from this class. Of course, I'm also glad that he confirmed a lot of what I'd already been thinking, so that biases me in his favor. Melinda Snodgrass had much the same atmosphere about her.

    The important 'advice' I received came more as an epiphany during our conversation. I think we were discussing with Kate Horsley the queer practices of authors as they prepare themselves to write. It got me thinking about my ideal conditions for writing, the things that slow me down, and what small things I had done in the past in order to focus. For me, that topic of conversation led me to imagine up a technique that I hope will allow me to put a lot more on the page in a reasonable period of time. I'm anxious to develop it over the break!

  6. Another great discussion topic, and one that I had to think about for a while before I could respond. I've taken notes from each of the writers that came to talk to us this semester, and they've each had some great things to say.

    I think the most pragmatically helpful to me was Melinda Snodgrass's explanation of how she workshops plot. I brought that advice to my writing group, and we've completely revamped some stories with this in mind. I know it helped me work on my creative project for this class. Knowing how the story will end when you start it does not work for everyone, and it can take some of the fun out of writing it. But for shorter works, knowing where I want a story to go helps me catch kinks in the pattern before they ruin the whole quilt.

    Other than that, good ideas just peppered Daniel Abraham's presentation. His writing career advice, the performance hypothesis on writing, publishing as a casino rather than a meritocracy, all of those are aspects I hope to incorporate into my writing lifestyle.


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