Literary Mantra as the Key to Ruin or Fame

We’ve all heard the statement: Write what you know. Okay, I think to myself, but what if that only fits into a poem, a haiku perhaps, not a full novel?

I’ve recently had a major breakthrough. I figured out what my personal mantra should be. “Write in a way that shows your readers that you have figured out who you are.”  Don’t try and be the late Christopher Hitchens if you’re actually Danielle Steele. Of course, if you’re  channelling Danielle Steele you may not even know who Christopher Hitchens was.

I was thinking about this poet in our class who has the personality and the life history and the sensibilities of a poet. Every time she reads, I have no idea what she’s talking about. It can be quite scientific and academic and that’s who she is. She’s an intellectual with a capital “I”.  I couldn’t  even fake being her. I’d have to do research for a very long time to be her or to even do some sort of Monty Python-styled skit about her. Because, let’s face it. This is my promise to you. I will never write anything that will go over your head. It might go over your head because the sentence structure is bad but it won’t be because, intellectually, I’m writing about things that could equate to the quantum physics of the literary world.

I write things that are small. Daily. Easy to understand. You might have experienced them as well. I usually write in a way that might make you laugh. I hope so. And, I realized this insight just by listening to the poet and watching her be her poetess self  in all her glory.  The poet did me this huge favour without doing anything. Forget webinars. This was learning through the observational art of extreme comparison.

Don’t try and be who you are not. Don’t do it at a dinner party. Don’t do it on a date. Don’t try and do it on your laptop. Don’t do it in your writing. You’re good enough, crazy enough, funny enough, boring enough, snobby enough, pretentious enough, cranky enough (fill in the blank) just by being you. Be you  to the extreme and that could lead you to the ultimate reward: Ruin and/or fame. Maybe like big lottery winners,  you’ll get both at the same time. It might just take ruin to get fame. Ever think of that? So, buck up and figure out who you really are. Then, write in that way, the way that epitomizes who you are and then sit back and let the accolades stream in.

Just don’t take this as the gospel truth. It’s only a theory. My theory. You, you get your own.

What’s your literary mantra? What are you trying to do on the page? Does it have something to do with who you are or are you pretending to be that other gal/guy? The one you wish you were. [Sound gong.]

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