LET FREEDOM RING Y’ALL

James R. Tuck
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Today is the day after Independence Day. We all shot our fireworks, ate our hotdogs, and enjoyed ourselves like we had no shame.

Or maybe that was just me. lol.

In light of all the wonderful freedom we celebrated yesterday I wanted to chat with you about freedom in your writing.

It seems as writers we are constantly putting chains on ourselves, trapping ourselves in corners, or in general restricting ourselves. Sometimes this happens because of deadlines and commitments, if you are prepublished then you can do it to yourself by chasing a market or beating your head against the brick wall of a book that isn’t ready to write.

I know that I tried to chase a book that wasn’t ready yet.

It was a disaster. I tried to force out a story I wasn’t ready to write yet. Not in a hippy-dippy way, not in a the-muse-wasn’t-cooperating way, but in a I-don’t-know-what-I-want-from-this-book way. But I had an opportunity to show the great idea (and it IS a great idea) to someone awesome in the industry that I really wanted to impress who was excited by the idea (because, again, it totally kicks ass) and the results were……….

MEH.

Yep. It was a struggle for me to force out the story, to drag those words out onto the screen. It was a struggle and at the end of it I was only kinda-sorta happy with some of it. The person I wanted to impress? Well, I failed at that too. And it’s cool, the story was underwhelming at the time.

But I learned something.

I learned that I didn’t want to play the career game. I didn’t want to spend my time not writing worrying about the job of being a writer. What to write next that will sell, what to do to game the system so I can sell, how can I make a splash so I can sell the next books, sell, sell, sell…….to hell with that.

It drove me a bit mad for a few months. I’m done with that now. I had to realize that I didn’t get my ticket to the party by writing anything other than EXACTLY what I wanted to write. The first Deacon book was the book I wanted to exist in the world, to be on a book shelf so I could buy it and read it and think it was awesomesauce. I wasn’t beholden to a concept of the market when I wrote that. I didn’t care about what was hot, what wasn’t, etc. I was punk rock about it! And it worked. It sold and it is the reason I am a writer today with these concerns. So I made a change.

Now I am writing what I want to write. What I want to write. I. Me. Myself. and all the other folks that live in my head.

Now I have several things going: a project done and resting, a project out to publishers, a project sold for 2014, and several short fiction gigs lined up and being knocked out (yes, giant robot story, you’re next. relax, I’ll be there when I finish this blog). All of this and I am enjoying it all because all of it is what I want to write. It’s freeing and wonderful and liberating and writing is a blast again.

So free your mind. Write what YOU want to read. Write what YOU enjoy. That’s the ticket to enjoying this one turn around the world you get.

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11 comments to LET FREEDOM RING Y’ALL

  • The advice I always give when asked “What one thing would you tell aspiring writers?” is love what you do. In part I mean, if you’re going to write, do it for the love of it, because for most of us the financial rewards are few and far between. But I also mean write what you love, because as you say, James, as soon as we start writing to the market or trying to write what we think someone else wants, the joy goes out of it, and all we’re left with is the slog.

    Hope you had a great 4th, my friend.

  • Exactly. You do have to work your craft and if you make commitments then you have to honor them and if you want to get paid there is nothing wrong with taking the thing you love and steering it to a commercial end but you have to have that love in your heart of hearts or the writing becomes work.

    Writing is a craft that you apply artistically..

  • Razziecat

    “Now I am writing what I want to write. What I want to write. I. Me. Myself. and all the other folks that live in my head.”

    YES. I want that on a T-shirt. I want it tattooed on my arm, so I can see it every day. And the part about a book not being ready to write? Hell, yeah. It’s not that I didn’t know this. I just forgot because I convinced myself that I had to finish projects in a certain order, or because they had the most complete idea, or whatever. Maybe some people can work that way–methodically, logically–but I’m learning that for me, if I’m not so wrapped up in the idea that I eat, sleep, dream, breathe THAT story, I get bored, and the story suffers. I need to rethink my priorities.

    Thank you for this post, James. And the people that live in my head thank you, too! :)

  • mudepoz

    Stupendous. There is a book that people want me to write, but I can’t. It’s a RL story, that much like I do on FB, I shared in vignettes on mailing lists. A boy, a crazy and brilliant dog, and me. Unfortunately the dog had to be put down with terrible seizures and the boy grew to be a man and shot himself.

    Not a good ending.

    Will I write it? I don’t know. I sit at the computer and look at it. It looks back at me, but doesn’t say anything. I use some of the vignettes in my kid stories. I used the kid’s name in the story, but I don’t know if I can actually write the real story.

    So while the story is still remembered, and I am bugged about it, it doesn’t make it any more likely to happen.

    I’ll write what I can, not what I can’t.

  • Vyton

    I like this idea. Thank you for putting it out there. It helps.

  • I am very glad you all took encouragement from my post!

    Be brave!

    Write like a warlord and conquer your words!

  • *laughs* Amen! The slogan I’ve adopted is a modified Ghandi: “Write the stories you wish to read in the world.” I don’t have the energy to chase a fad. I’d rather share my heartsongs than try to please someone else. :)

  • quillet

    “So free your mind. Write what YOU want to read. Write what YOU enjoy.”

    This. This this this! Thank you!

  • Mud – I hear you about the RL stories. A couple people have urged me to write my grandmother’s biography because she was a wonderful person who brought light into a lot of people’s lives, but if I did that I’d have to write about all the darkness that she lived through. I’d have to expose old wounds and old wrongs. And I’d have to treat my grandmother like a character; I’d have to make a narrative of her life. I don’t think I can do that. I’m not sure I have a right to do that.

  • I’m late to every post for the past week. For which you can thank the house remodel we are living through.
    While I do write for the market (and I think about the market in everything I write) I also know that I have love what I’m writing. When I don’t it comes out all wrong. My last book was rewritten because the editor didn’t like the inciting event. I changed said inciting event and wrote the book. And it crashed and burned. The rewrite was exhausting, and I had to put it back like I had started. The book worked. Write what you love. Love what you write.
    Good advice, man!
    As to the book I can’t write. Yeah. Got one of those. Maybe when I’m 80 and everyone involved is dead… For now, it stares me in the face and taunts me. And I let it be.

  • You’ll get the best of it Faith…I believe in you :)