Following a recent reading I was asked if I had any advice for aspiring writers.  The thing that came to mind was a quote from Dinosaur Jr. that reads as follows, “I’ve got no advice about anything.  Just f*ck it up yourself.”   Of course, as there were children present, I couldn’t say it, good advice as  it was.  And still is.  Instead I hemmed and hawed a bit before mumbling something about the importance of writing every day (the reading hadn’t gone very well and I was rattled).  “Write something every day,” I remember saying. “A journal entry.  A blog post.  A haiku with too many syllables.  Something.  Anything.  Even if it’s bad.  EsPECIALLY if it’s bad.”  Except I wasn’t nearly as articulate as all that.  Sadly.  But as far as advice for aspiring writers goes it’s not bad advice at all even if it does seem wicked self-explanatory.  It’s important to write for the writings’ sake.  Even if it’s just the word “milk” written over and over again.

Since that day I’ve been thinking about (read:obsessing over) my answer and how incomplete it was.  If I had to answer the question again I would add that to be a writer, you have to be a reader.  Reading is what made me want to write.  Also, and this is going to sound very counter-intuitive, don’t get too caught up in thinking about your audience.  I can only speak for myself but if I start out thinking, “okay, we’re going to do a mid-grade novel so the target age is 9 to 12 then . . . .” then I’ve already imposed limits on myself.  I’ve already put myself in a box.  Just concentrate on telling a good story the way you want to tell it.  And finally (at least until I think of something else) never let anyone tell you you can’t.

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