Thursday, 20 January 2011

New Rules

Though she doesn't intend to, Ms Anis Shivani provides a long list of things that you should NOT do to become a successful writer.  Here's a taste:
You're supposed to have a keen, appreciative, well-trained, affectionate, loyal audience--one that "gets" you, gets what you're all about, your aims and ambitions, your motivation and biography, how you fit into the circle, what chair belongs to you and at exactly how many minutes past ten it'll be your turn to speak at the table. Every audience ever known to man is stupid. It's stupid because it takes itself seriously. No great writer ever wrote for the audience at hand. And if you can't know your audience when you create, that's almost the same as saying that there is no audience at all. Is the audience your inner critic? You should have silenced that voice before you ever started writing. Criticism is for others, not for your own work. Your own work flows from passion and madness, not theories of completion and harmony and perfection. Is the audience a super-intelligent one, as well-read as you, as biographically diverse and adventurous as you, as restless for newness and experiment and reality as you? You should have killed that audience before you started writing, because why write for someone just like you? Where's the excitement in that? 
The short version of her advice:  To Hell with publishers, editors, critics, readers, making money, and critical thinking.  It's all about passion, dammit!

That's the sort of thing that has you ending up sitting in a corner of the Paddington public library fingering the tattered, grease-stained manuscript of your Magnum Opus while spraying beer-soaked words into the ear of whatever poor bastard you manage to buttonhole.

I should know.  I was the poor bastard.

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