Hi good people,
Today you will write 1000 words. There is only one you, your voice is singular, and if you do not write these 1000 words no one will ever know what you have to say. You absolutely must have faith in yourself, that what you need to talk about is important, and that a reader will care about it. And you will write those 1000 words so that people will listen to you. You have go into this believing you are worth being heard.
We all question our work, how we write it, and the validity of its substance. I’m in the earliest stages of this new book, and daily I look at what I’ve written and think: well this is very obviously not very good! And also: what on earth am I talking about? In fact, just moments ago someone texted me to ask me how my work was going and I said, “Meh,” followed by, “Who the hell knows.” But I trust that it will get there. I trust that the core me contains a message worthy of being spoken. I trust that if I write and rewrite and think and rewrite and stare out the window and read other people and then write and rewrite some more, it will get better. And then, maybe, I will be ready to be heard.
Today’s guest contributor is Melissa Febos, author of two books of non-fiction, Whip Smart, and Abandon Me, which was an Indie Next pick, as well as being named a Best Book of 2017 by numerous publications. (Not to mention The New Yorker called it “mesmerizing.") Melissa is currently an Associate Professor of Creative Writing at Monmouth University, where she directs the MFA program. She is also a gentle, wise, bighearted person. I asked Melissa to talk about how she starts something new.
“First, I read something that reminds me of the possibilities. I think we all have these texts, the ones that blow open all the doors in the house of what we think a story should be. Not just the books that you love, but the ones you keep on the desk, that press your imaginative restart button. Next, I try to say the hardest thing I can think of. Not the most aesthetically challenging or the grossest--just a thing it wouldn't be polite or safe to say. A secret, maybe. The thing I don't think I'd be brave enough to say aloud, not with another person in the room, anyway. Sometimes artistic honesty can be jumpstarted by honesty-honesty, I've found. Give the character the thing you wouldn't dare put words to, but that is knocking inside you like a caught bird. Then, follow it.”
Have a great day writing.