I don’t often give out writing advice here, becasue I doubt anyone wants to hear it, but here’s some: choose honesty over cleverness and coolness. Cleverness and coolness are quicksand that will kill you and your writing. There is always someone more clever, someone more cool, but there is no one who can be honest exactly like you can becasue there is no one who’s seen exactly what you’ve seen. Don’t be so scared of being a schmuck, or of making you characters schmucks. Don’t have people "lament" or "bemoan" when really, they’re whining. Never let your characters "inhale the smell of a fine book," and don’t even think about telling me you’ve done it yourself. Old books smell dirty and sweaty; it’s not something you want to inhale. You don’t stop loving old books, you just start describing them as what they are: dirty and smelly. Instead of trying to be clever and smart, you try to be honest. If you choose honesty, you will succeed even if you fail; but if your goal is to be clever and cool, you will fail at having done anything worthwhile even if you succeed.
4 thoughts on “Truer Words”
Everything but the old books, I’m all about.
(Sweaty? Old books smell…sweaty? I’ll have to snuffle one when I get home today, but that seems–very strange.)
(To say nothing of fine =! old. A brand-spiffy-new leather-bound book? Very fine indeed, and smelling teh yum.)
Words to live by. I should have them tattooed in reverse on my forehead.
And I’ll add: don’t fall for the seduction of assuming that everyone is just alike deep down, and the same things that are false for you are, of course, equally false for everyone. Tell the truth, even if it is clever. Then, when you are reading or writing, the individualities of other voices will ring always true instead of always false. You know, within reason.
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