Dean Wesley Smith has got me thinking again (blast him).
For those of you who are writers and haven't read his blog, I recommend that you read it religiously (and be sure to read all the comments too - lots of great discussion there). Dean's blog is critical, especially if you want to make a living in this business.
Dean is a guy who not only makes a very good living at writing, but has done so in times when supposedly midlist writers like him couldn't make a living at all. His schtick is that the only reason writers can't make a living is because they cling to myths that hold them back.
And though I never advise anyone to follow a guru blindly, if you really wanted to follow someone blindly -- adhering to the advice to the letter -- Dean would be the man to follow.
Because Dean is always absolutely right about everything... except when he's wrong.
(And he'd be the first to tell you that. He'll be in the middle of a rant about how you absolutely must not do something and he'll put in an aside "unless it works for you; don't mess with what works.")
I bring this up because every now and then I'll say something in the comments on his blog which freaks him out. I'm not a great person for staying on message, even when I fully agree with you, and Dean is trying so hard to free writers from silly notions which hamper their ability to succeed.
It sometimes makes me feel like a bad influence when I write about what I'm doing. Like I'm passing out joints to the kids on the schoolyard.
So here's the thing: I'm in a very different place than most writers are. I'm doing things which may seem to be the polar opposite of what he advises (more on that when I get to tomorrow's debriefing on the writing of this book) -- but I'm not doing it because I believe in any of those old myths which he hates so vociferously.
I'm doing it because I've been around a long time, I've learned a whole heck of a lot of different practices and methods... and the only thing that dictates what I do now is the story itself. And that, for me, is a part of what it is to be an artisan writer -- like a carpenter listening to the wood.
But I got to this point, where I can listen to the story and what it wants, by doing what Dean tells you to do. (And okay, if I say one thing and Dean says another and you don't know who to believe, just remember that Dean got rich and successful from his writing, and I haven't. And I probably never will.)
But I also think Dean takes a rather narrow view, and it doesn't hurt you kids (or old folks) to experiment, especially in the area where Dean and I differ the most:
Dean believes that your Internal Editor is the enemy, and should be locked in the closet.
I believe that your Internal Editor is an annoying but incredibly useful control freak who needs to be kept on a leash, but always on call.
You won't get anywhere if your Creative Side isn't in control. But there are places you will never get to if you don't bring the Internal Editor along for the ride. And the book I just wrote is one of them.
And we'll talk a little about that tomorrow. Maybe late tomorrow, because my Internal Editor and I will be finishing up the book, and wrestling him is time-consuming -- and I may not actually sit down to write that post until Friday night.
See you in the funny papers.