“For women then, poetry is not a luxury. It is a vital necessity of our existence. It forms the quality of the light within which we predicate our hopes and dreams toward survival and change, first made into language, then into idea, then into more tangible action. Poetry is the way we help give name to the nameless so it can be thought. The farthest horizons of our hopes and fears are cobbled by our poems, carved from the rock experiences of our daily lives.”—Poetry is Not a Luxury - Audre Lorde
I haven’t even finished this book yet, but it is just moving me in a way I haven’t experienced for quite some time. A lot of it is disturbing and sometimes I’m not even quite sure what I’m feeling as I read, but it’s that sensation - the swooping in the gut as the pages take you to unexpected, unpredictable places - that makes me realise how amazing this book is.
I read quite a lot and generally speaking I enjoy most of the books I come across, but I’ve realised that for the most part, they present passive experiences. They elicit wry smiles and I can appreciate a cleve, well turned out sentence or conceit, but they are often forgettable - maybe this is more about the books I choose, as opposed to an indictment of the current book trade, or perhaps it is a little of both.
But this book - these pages, these characters, these stories - all so undeniable. This is what reading a book - a good book should mean. Diving into the print and holding your breath despite yourself, as you swim amongst the people and their places, which are now your people, and your places, if only for a little while, and then there’s that warmth that comes, or sometimes it is a surprising chill, when you bump against an expression that mirrors the secret thoughts you have thought and felt.
I was not at all ready for Vanishing Rooms but I am glad it is here, and that I am here to read it. I love it when I come across books that remind of me of the type of writer I want to be. Don’t know if I’ll ever get there, but if the search keeps bringing me books like Vanishing Rooms, then it’s OK. More than enough.
“Forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you whether you’re inspired or not. Habit will help you finish and polish your stories. Inspiration won’t. Habit in persistence in practice.”—
Right here is your story. Your manuscript. Your career. So why the fuck are you running in the other direction? Your writing will never chase you — you need to chase your writing. If it’s what you want, then pursue it. This isn’t just true of your overall writing career, either. It’s true of individual components. You want one thing but then constantly work to achieve its opposite. You say you want to write a novel but then go and write a bunch of short stories. You say you’re going to write This script but then try to write That script instead. Pick a thing and work toward that thing.
2. Stop Stopping
Momentum is everything. Cut the brake lines. Careen wildly and unsteadily toward your goal. I hate to bludgeon you about the head and neck with a hammer forged in the volcanic fires of Mount Obvious, but the only way you can finish something is by not stopping. That story isn’t going to unfuck itself.
3. Stop Writing In Someone Else’s Voice
You have a voice. It’s yours. Nobody else can claim it, and any attempts to mimic it will be fumbling and clumsy like two tweens trying to make out in a darkened broom closet. That’s on you, too — don’t try to write in somebody else’s voice. Yes, okay, maybe you do this in the beginning. But strive past it. Stretch your muscles. Find your voice. This is going to be a big theme at the start of 2012 — discover those elements that comprise your voice, that put the author in your authority. Write in a way that only you can write.
“I wish to live because life has within it that which is good, that which is beautiful, and that which is love. Therefore, since I have known all these things, I have found them to be reason enough and - I wish to live. Moreover, because this is so, I wish others to live for generations and generations and generations and generations.”—Lorraine Hansberry - To Be Young, Gifted & Black