Any advice to other writers?
yes. it is this: stop listening to advice.
in 2nd grade my advice was stop writing. i’m an adhd cuban kid writing bad poetry, trembling when i raise my hand in public. i get my first (and only) award at this age, when my colorblind self sees a picture incorrectly and writes a poem about the muddiness a toad sits in, where everyone else sees colors, blossoming.
at 15 you will not win awards. nor at 16, or 20, or 23.
but if this is your heart and soul, you will keep writing. because it doesn’t matter. it doesn’t matter if 215,000 people read your writing, or just 3. what matters is that you write, in margins of papers you lose, in the edges of moleskins you burn, on your exposed skin. you write and write and write until you are drained of it. but you are never, not really, drained of it.
in the meantime, i learned grammar so specifically i could teach it, so teach it i did, in a better way than i ever learned it. i explained: there, their, and they’re are easy to remember. there has “here” in it, which makes it regarding times or places. their has a little person in the form of “i” in it. that’s about you or other people. “they’re” is the easiest because the apostrophe means “they are”. and that’s the end of things. “breath” and “breathe” are different but related things, when you take a breath, you swallow the “e”, to breathe means you rEleasE the ending.
and then i crushed it under a boot. a lot of people asked me: how come. but the how is easy. the lower case and all my lack of punctuation and things. i knew the rules and broke them because it was the thing to do. bc it felt weird to talk in a fake way, u know? like i was lying.
so i told the truth. while i talked about superpowers or magic or anything fake. i told the truth. and that’s what makes it real, isn’t it. that we look for the honesty of a moment. nobody says “hey how are you doing?” “oh, i’m fine, how about you?” unless they’re being fake. two friends say “what’s up?” the other says “i’m dead inside fuck you.”
and you watch. i watch with big eyes. i observe. i know how people talk to each other, how they move in the world. so when she glides through the doors, people turn and look at her. so that blurting isn’t just blurting, it’s meant with uncertainty. so that things have meaning.
people ask me: how come your dialogue is so good? and the truth is: i cheat. i say it out loud, and think: does this flow? does it rest? does it sound like two people talking? “how is that going” “here is exposition about my being a spy i was once in the Russian army” doesn’t sound friendly. two people being like “how’s that vent crawling going?” “oh, you know, lovely, i’m belly-flat and hungry” sounds much more lovely. this is how you fit in character development. i almost never do it without spoken word. why say “she was mad about her past” when i can say “oh, you know, lovely, i’m belly-flat and hungry, but like, you know, they carved out my insides, so, like, extra room, thanks, you fuckers,” works twice as well.
and then i throw it out. people say “here’s a list of words that replace said” so i write a story where people only use said, and it works, because the narrator’s voice is strong enough it carries it on through the universe. and i throw out commas. and i throw out quotation marks. i use whatever i think the words need. and i move forwards.
i think what writers should be afraid of the most is stagnation. not agents or how the audience will take them or how the world will scoop up words or anything. just the healthy fear of constantly rewriting the same thing in different words. that’s the true fear. and this isn’t to say that you can’t write about the same emotions or people. but everything should be a new exploration into a concept. kind of a tall order.
so i’ll say this. who gives a shit. if you spend 4 years writing a love poetry blog to your significant other, he still ends up hating your poetry. if you write to the wrong person, you feel stupid and numb, endless. in a bad way, i mean.
so write for yourself, always. who cares about notes. i write dumb shit all the time. write because it’s the only thing worth doing. write because people told you to stop.
people ask me all the time “how did you do that!” but the truth is all you need to do is look at the number of posts. at the end of six thousand, you find a way around your land.
and you find your voice. and that’s all that matters, in the end.