|"Ignore them? Wow."|
Constance 'Dusty' Miller
I think that my first novel is done.
It’s kind of hard to say.
That’s it? It’s over?
But of course it’s not really over until the book is published.
For some reason I’m a bit shy about doing that.
It’s not like there’s a big deadline for it.
I can sit down and try to read the thing three or four times, and there is no doubt that once I tuck into it, there are changes that can be made.
I could screw around with the ending a bit.
I tried to explain the feeling to a buddy.
Let’s call him Mike.
“How long have you been doing this?”
I told him a couple of years. I didn’t know what to say.
“The problem is that you are still listening.”
“You’re still listening.”
“To what? The book?” (Mike really is a bit nuts sometimes.)
“No.” He looked me right in the eye. “No. You’re still listening to them.”
Oh, yeah, here we go.
He sat back a little bit, and then he took a long, slow breath. There was some hesitation there.
“You’re still listening to the other writers. You’re still listening to the people who are telling you how to write a story. You’re still listening to the people who are telling you how to manage a career, and this is your first fucking book for Christ’s sake. You’re still listening to the dos and don’ts and the whatnots, the fucking adverbs and dialogue tags and prepositions and it’s all fucking bullshit.”
“And you’re saying I shouldn’t do that?”
“I’m saying you’ve had enough. At some point, it is extremely important that you stop fucking listening to all of them other voices. For if you don’t…they will go on forever. And nothing is more guaranteed to fuck you up as a writer, quicker than listening to a bunch of other writers. All the fucking time. Look. Read their stories—their fiction, for crying out loud, and stop reading their fucking opinions. They don't know anything more than you do. Ignore all that other bullshit about craft, and business, and publishing, and How to Write a Fucking Book, and all that shit about the industry. Just forget it. It’s nonsense, Dusty. All of it.”
“So what?” (Man, you smoke a lot. I could see it in his eyes.)
“So what do I do?”
“Listen to yourself. What’s your next story? That's the only thing that's important. Follow your own instincts. And ignore everything and everyone else. Otherwise, you are fucking doomed to follow them. And I don’t see you as a follower at all. You've got all kinds of stuff. It's busting out at the seams. You're the only one who don't fucking see it.”
That fucking guy was dead serious, too.
“Okay.” I thought about it for a minute. “You mean, everyone who comes after this, right?”
He grinned from ear to ear.
“Now you’re catching on.”
What the hell.
I will try anything once.
I have to admit, though. That was a new one on me.
It does make a weird kind of sense, though.
(Dusty’s just a bit shy, ladies and gentlemen. She’s put a lot of work into it. It’s not a bad book and if she can’t think of anything to add, then the thing is done, isn’t it? I promise that I won’t let her stew too long.– ed.)