Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Novel of Great Importance

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So much of writing is sitting around trying to find the perfect word or the perfect phrase. I feel as though people think writers just sit down at the keyboard and the words and phrases fly out of their fingers with ease as they say beautiful and important things. That it's natural for them.

I don't know about you, but most of my writing is me staring at the blank screen thinking of the right words. Imagining scenes in my head, then typing it out and realizing it reads nothing like I thought it would, deleting everything, and starting over. I pull up to try and find new words to use that might describe what I want to say in a better way. I pace circles around the house to try and figure it out. Then, sometimes after only getting a couple paragraphs on the page, I put it away and decide to think about it another day because I'm just writing myself into a rut.

When you write, you feel this pressure to have each word and sentence perfect. Each one needs to be meaningful and important.

Recently, the author VE Schwab wrote this on her Twitter:

"So many people set out to write a Novel of Great Importance. I just want to write stories that make people forget where they are. I want to make readers miss their stop. I want to make them smile and gasp and cheer. I want them to have fun."

When I read that, a wave of relief swept over me.

Lately, I've read a couple of those Novels of Great Importance. They have beautiful words and sentences and metaphors and say very important things about life and society. I read them and I agree saying "Yes, you are a great writer. Yes, this is very important. Good job. Gold star." Yet, I'm bored.

I don't lose myself in the story and forget where I am. I don't miss my train stop. I don't laugh or cheer or cry out loud. When the book is over I close it and say "Yup. That was very important and had a lot of important things to say. What's for lunch?"

Yet, we writers think this is what we need to create. The Novel of Great Importance. Or, perhaps, the Blog of Great Importance. We sit down and think "Yes! This will be the blog post where I have some great quote everyone will be talking about and will be pinned for everyone to be inspired by! This is the blog post that'll go viral and everyone will see what a great writer I am!"

That's not how it's supposed to be. The best writing, is the writing that comes from you. If the Novel/Blog of Great Importance isn't your style- don't write it. Pieces that are funny, or silly, or filled with fantasy and adventure, or about fashion, or art, or whatever it is you enjoy are the best ones. Because they are what you want to write about.

The bloggers who stay true to themselves and don't try to be something else are the ones I still follow. The novels that make me laugh and cry and get lost in their world, even if they are the "best" of literature, are the ones I will continually pick up and read.

This doesn't mean they aren't important or don't have fantastic messages. I keep going back to Harry Potter and how many important messages there were in that series. Yet, I wasn't bored to tears.

Last night I watched Legally Blonde and was reminded about how on the surface it's a silly girly comedy - but I find it to be one of the best feminist movies. The musical is the same way.

This is my writing advice. Write what you want to write and don't feel like you have to live up to some standard of what is considered "great" or "important." It doesn't mean you won't have writers block or days when you struggle to find the words. That will always happen. But write what you want to write. Whether it's a fun blog post, fanfiction, a silly story, about fashion and makeup, your family, or whatever. If it happens to be deep and meaningful, that's awesome. If it doesn't seem that way, who cares? Your best writing will come from you, not from being pretentious.

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  1. It's funny, because we call them "Novels of Great Importance," but they're usually the ones I forget. I don't remember the books that just made good points. I remember the ones that were good stories. The ones that just mic drop awesome truths in the middle and you're like, "Wait...what?" Because you weren't expecting the mic drop because you were so wrapped up in the story. THOSE are the ones I remember. Novels of Great Importance be damned, just tell me a good story.

  2. I love this!! I am actually mulling over a blog post about what exactly constitutes a "great" novel (sparked by the idea that GSAW has ruined TKAM). People often look down on things that aren't serious or meaningful enough, but there is something to be said about entertainment for entertainment's sake.


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