Tag Archives: writing

Hodgepodge and Miscellany

It’s been a while since I wrote anything really substantive in this space. That’s not an apology so much as an observation. Things have been busy. I’ve been busy. I probably could have made myself blog more than I have, but if I’m forcing myself to do something I don’t like…well what’s the point in that. If I’m going to do things I don’t like, I’m at least going to get paid for doing them.

But there are a few things I thought some of you might like to know. First, Thing 1 and Thing 2 are out of our house once again and working toward a more permanent placement with some relatives. They packed up everything last week and headed out of state. The odds are decent that I won’t see them again, at least not for a very long time. I would be lying if I told you I didn’t cry when they left. But I would also be lying if I told you that I wasn’t at least a little glad that they’re gone. Between their school schedule, and trying to spend time my wife and our baby, things were stretched a little thin for us. I’m looking forward to having a little more free time to write.

Speaking of writing, I’m working on a new story which I think is going to be titled, The Death and Life of the Human Electrode, which is about a homeless superhero. And I’ve got one out for beta reads right now called In the Shadow of Doubt which is about faith and giant spiders and a tribe of squirrels that lives in a world-tree.

In other news, the parenting adventure continues. Baby AJ is now mobile. Which means you’ve got to keep an eye on him, because if you don’t the next think you know you’re hearing the thump of the trash can in the kitchen and when you get there he’ll be eating used coffee grounds right out of the filter. Really.

Also, he likes dog food for some reason. I’ve tried to convince my wife that this is a possible way to save money over all that expensive formula and baby food she keeps buying, but so far she’s not going for it.

Here is a video of him wearing pants on his head:

 

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Some Loosely Connected Thoughts on Interactive Fiction, Second-Person Perspective, and Writer’s Voice

I’ve been playing a lot of interactive fiction lately. I like the term “interactive fiction” a lot. As a writer it helps me justify my time-wasting so much better than, “games with text instead of pictures”.

If you’re not familiar with interactive fiction, it’s the type of game where descriptions print on the screen and you have to tell your character what to do. For example, the opening to an IF game might look something like this:

You step out of the wreckage of your dad’s Starspeeder 3000 onto the surface of the planet. The ground squishes beneath your feet like soggy bread, and the air of the planet, though breathable, smells distinctly of unwashed feet. To the east you see something swelling up from the earth that resembles nothing so much as an inverted mushroom covered in electric blue fur. From the north you hear a haunting kind of music that seems to swell with the wind. As you contemplate exactly how long you’re going to be grounded for crashing dad’s space ship, you realize how lucky you are to have landed on a planet with a stable magnetic field, for otherwise directions like “north” and “east” would have no meaning.

You’ll notice something about that little fragment. It’s all in second-person. There are probably exceptions to this, but for the most part these IF games are all written in second person, feeding descriptions and dialogue to “you” allowing you to immerse yourself in the adventure.

For a while now I’ve been thinking about a various ways second-person could be implemented in fiction. For whatever reason, there’s something inherently awkward about straight second-person in long fiction. It can work well enough in shorter stories, but once you stretch into novella length and beyond second person starts to feel tedious.

Part of the reason for this is that straight-forward second person feels as if someone has invaded your psychic personal space, telling you what you’re thinking, doing and saying, without you having any control over it. But maybe the way to make second-person more palatable would be to come at it indirectly.

What do I mean by that?

Well, let me answer by asking you a question: which “person” is this blog post written in? Seems like most votes would go for first-person. After all you keep hearing me talk about myself and what my perspective it don’t you? But in the sentence before this one, “you” was the subject. Except you can clearly see that I’ve included first person elements and- okay yes, you caught me, I’m doing it again.

Point being, “person” isn’t as concrete a thing as you might’ve been led to believe. This is something I learned a good while back from reading a book of short stories by H. G. Wells. In many of these stories Wells would use a framing device in which a first-person narrator opened the story and then related the bulk of the narrative as something he’d been told by someone else. As such 95% of the story came through in third person despite technically being first person. And, since the framing-device narrator is speaking directly to the implied “you” that is the reader you could even argue that there is an implicit layer of second person there as well.

And here was where I thought I’d been struck by an epiphany. The key to making second person work might lie in making the person doing the telling a character as well as the person being told. If there were a distinct enough “I” delivering the “you” maybe it would translate into more readable second person fiction.

I say I “thought” I’d had an epiphany. Because what I realized later was this: it doesn’t matter which person you’re trying to tell a story in, there is always someone doing the telling. This is something that’s obvious to us in first-person fiction. When you’re writing first-person the teller is a character in the story. But when it comes to third-person we forget that the person telling that story is a character as well.

Now you might be thinking, “But I’m the one telling the story. I’m not a character.” But you forget that everything that makes it onto the page is filtered through you. You’re the one who tells some details and leaves others out. You’re the one who decides which characters you’re going to focus on and when. And, perhaps most importantly, you’re the one who decides the way the story will be told.

This is that mystic and unfathomable thing called “voice”. Except maybe it shouldn’t be so mystic and unfathomable. Because what it really boils down to is the author accepting his status as an “invisible character.” The audience is seeing the world though his eyes, and the fact that those eyes belong to him and no one else, matters.

When I write a story, the thing I’m saying without saying is, “Hi, I’m Albert. And I’m going to tell you a story.” And when I pick up a book to read, I’m entering into an implicit understanding with the author that he is going to deliver the tale from his heart in his words.

So when you sit down to write, in whatever person, don’t be afraid to let the you shine through the story. Always remember: you can’t tell a story without becoming part of the story. And if you do it right the story just might become a part of you.

Not NaNoWriMo (But Similar)

I’m not doing NaNoWriMo this year. I probably should have waited until later in the post to say that, kind of lead up into it sort of thing, but meh. It’s not like I can go back and fix it or anything.

Okay, I kid. In actuality going back fixing what I’ve already written is the reason I’m not doing NaNoWriMo this year.

There’s something Chuck Wendig often repeats on his blog, a phrase, a fundamental axiom of writerdom. That phrase is not, “Complete thy poop,” but you get the idea. It’s good advice, both for writers, and those afflicted by constipation.

Thing is, for the writer completion doesn’t happen all at once. There’s that first stage of completion when you finish your rough draft, and you feel all giddy about finally being done with this monstrosity. Except, of course, you aren’t done. Then come the rewrites, and the editing, the beta reads and the queries, and, hopefully, publication in one form or another.

Put simply, your poop requires polish.

And this year I’ve got some stories that need polish. Two years ago I wrote a story for NaNoWriMo called The Dark Mile about a young man trying to deal with increasingly disturbing dreams and visions that seem to focus around one particularly desolate spot along his nightly paper route. It’s been sitting for all that time, untouched, while I’ve pursued other things. It’s been waiting long enough.

Several years before that, I wrote a story called In the Shadow of Doubt about a holy war that breaks out in a tribe of squirrels living in a tree that fills their entire world. I sent it out to a number of agents, received zero response and eventually got discouraged and shelved it. But the other day, reading back through that story I found that there was a lot to like in it. It needs a little touching up, a little smoothing out, but the bulk of the story really works.

So while the rest of you busy beavers and bashing your heads against your keyboards desperately trying to get to 1,667 words each day, I’ll be hunkered down here with words I’ve already written, trying to make the bad into good and the good into better. I’ll let you figure out which of us has it better. At least you have the luxury of some measurable metric of success.

Oh, and speaking of that:

I’ve been hearing a lot of talk about how 50,000 words does not an actual “novel” make. Not according to “the publishers”. I’m not generally disposed to bash of one form of publishing or another, but in this particular case if I were not a man of gentle words I would instruct you on exactly which sexual act you might perform on “the publishers” and in which orifice, and which brand of garden rake might be best for the job. Why?

Because A STORY’S LENGTH IS NOT A SIGNIFICANT MEASURE OF ITS VALUE. Did you catch that? You there in the back, where you able to hear me?

Your story should be as long as it needs to be. You can tell a good and compelling story in 50,000 words. You can go longer if you want —and if you’ve got your eye on traditional publishing it wouldn’t hurt to keep their preferences in mind— but don’t let anyone make you feel like less of a writer because you’ve reached the end of your tale when you wind up at 50k.

So to all of you out there, no matter what you’re doing this month, I hope it works out better than you could ever dream. And to that one guy reading this post on his phone while he’s taking a dump, well…you know.

Acting in the Theatre of the Mind

Sometime in the past year I changed my radio listening habits. I started tuning out the conservative talk radio I had grown up with (don’t judge me; or do: whatever) and amped up my consumption of NPR. Of course on NPR the tone of discussion is radically different, but on a basic level it’s not much of a switch. Talking is talking no matter which way you slice it up, and they do a lot of talking on NPR. They talk about politics, news, world-culture; and of course, they do interviews.

Sometimes they do interviews with people who actually matter, like politicians or financial experts or whatever. But sometimes they do interviews with other people; the kind of people that a lot of other people think matter, but they don’t really, except for the fact that so many people believe they matter kind of means that they do? That sentence: it got away from me.

I have a sliding scale for how well I tolerate these kinds of interviews. On the bottom of the scale is musicians. Call me crazy, but given the choice of hearing someone talk about music and listening to, you know, actual music, I’m gonna go with the latter.

Slightly higher on the scale, but not by much, are the writers. In theory I should be really interested in what other writers have to say. I mean, those be my people,  amiright? I don’t know, maybe they’re picking the most boring writers possible for these interviews, but I think it’s more likely that out of all the different professions out there, writers just tend not to be that interesting to talk to. Hellooo? That’s why we’re writers! If we could talk we wouldn’t be glued to our keyboards.

Then comes the third group. The group I should probably dislike the most, but somehow end up disliking the least. Actors. Actors tend to be way more interesting to me than writers or musicians. I’m not sure I can justify this. Probably it tickles the same bone in me that makes people buy supermarket celebrity news tabloids.

But there’s more than that too. Because when I listen to writers talk about how they write, most of the time I don’t get much out of it as a writer. They talk about why they chose a specific setting for their novels or what it is about one of their characters that appeals to them and it’s all very…safe.

More often than not though, I feel like I can learn something from actors talking about how they do what they do. The whole point of what an actor does is to create a character. Their job is to step out of who they are and into someone else in such a way that the audience believes in that person.

Now I know what you’re thinking, “Albert, the guy who wrote the script created that character. He’s the one who came up with the guy’s motivations, he’s the one who puts the words in his mouth. The actor is just following the writer’s instructions.”

And you’re wrong.

Yes, the writer does write the lines for the character, he does come up with his backstory, maybe he even has an idea of the character’s mental and spiritual state in the story. But no matter how good the writing is, it’s going to fall flat if someone doesn’t step into that role and become the thing the writer envisioned, mannerisms, ticks, facial expression, and a million other tiny things that the script writer might have never conceived of when he penned the story. The actor is more than just a puppet spouting the lines he’s been giving, going through the actions he’s been assigned. In a very real sense he must become the thing he is portraying as the film cameras roll.

At this point you might be thinking, “Yeah, but I’m writing a novel, not a screenplay you doofus. Why should I care about all this Hollywood mumbo jumbo?”

The reason you should care is this: if you want your story to be believable, if you want your work to make an impact, character matters. As a fiction writer you have more in common with the actor than you think. You’re not just writing dialogue. You’re writing actions and reactions, mannerisms and habits. You can’t rely on someone else to come along and realize the character in your reader’s minds. The whole burden of the process is on you.

The characters aren’t your puppets. Well, they can be. You’re the godlike writer, you can make them do whatever you want them to do. But if you want their story to be believable  if you want people to care about what happens to them, you’re going to have to do more than that.

You have to be able to step into their skin, understand what makes them who they are, and make sure that is reflected in every page that they’re on. This is more than just slapping on a backstory, a goal and a phobia. This is investing each of them with a soul of their own, making them into a living breathing person in your mind, and ultimately, in your moments of creation, becoming them.

Full disclosure? This is something I need improvement on. But sometimes I think I get it right. Sometimes I can feel what my characters are feeling, I can get inside their heads in such a way that their actions become my actions.

This is what writers mean when they talk about characters living inside their heads. We’re not schizophrenic; but maybe we are just a little bit crazy. Maybe we have to be.

Because in the end our insanity is infectious. The more we start to believe our characters are real, the more they start to live in and through us, the more the reader will believe that they’re real. Our characters will act out their story on the stage we’ve built in the theatre of the reader’s mind; and we can count ourselves successful if only for only a moment we can make our vision of the world feel more honest than the truth.

Author Interview: G. Wells Taylor

[G. Wells Taylor was the guy who got me started with self-published books. Years ago I knew such things existed, but I’d never had the incentive to try them out. All that changed when I stumbled across the site manybooks.net and downloaded a copy of Mr. Taylor’s book When Graveyards Yawn. In the pages of that book I met “PI in zombietown” character Wildclown; it blew my mind. Since then I’ve been addicted to the amazing and unfiltered weird that the channel of self-publishing opens up. Today’s it’s my great joy and pleasure to present to you my interview with the man who started it all…]

All of your books seem to feature the undead in one way or another. What is it that fascinates you about zombies and vampires? Is it simply the horror of imperfect immortality, or is there something more?

Zombies and vampires are fitting tools for exploring the horror of imperfect immortality, as you say; but I also see them as dire warnings against imperfect mortality, since they inhabit negative aspects of our own collective identity. Zombies fly in the face of the democratic ideal of safety in numbers and instead invoke the image of mob rule and soulless conformity. Vampires suggest the hypocrisy of individual superiority mocked by an utter dependence upon and envy for their inferior prey. These uncomfortable contradictions make these monsters so human and therefore, captivating to both readers and writers.

In my experience the journey to becoming a seasoned writer is more tangled and complicated than most readers will ever know, so what’s your story? When was the moment you realized, “I want to tell stories,” and how long did it take your dream to come to fruition?

In the early days, I used to illustrate and write stories for my own entertainment. I did well in art class, and thought painting and illustrating would be my way of figuring out my personal puzzles. However, during my first year of art college, I realized that I had many more than a thousand words to say about each picture I generated; so I began to suspect that I would find commercial or fine art to be lacking for me as a sole means of self-expression.

I dropped out of college to work for a few years before eventually returning to study journalism and English literature in university. In the meantime, I had been writing stories and banking manuscripts.

I did annual submissions to publishing houses with little success, but was not discouraged. I knew my stories did not fit the mold. Imagine pitching Wildclown to a publishing industry that was shifting to a more conservative and risk-averse business model.

I thought of myself as a writer despite the fact that people pointed out I wasn’t making any money at it. I didn’t get the point and kept writing anyway.

I mentioned before that you write fiction that primarily focuses on the undead —a topic which has gotten more than its share of attention in the past few years— and yet your stories put a fresh spin on the established tropes: the World of Change posits the question: what if every living thing became effectively unkillable? In Bent Steeple your villain is a pedophilic vampire. In the Variant Effect a wonder-drug makes certain people begin to crave human flesh. And my question is, what is it that drives you to take these tropes that everyone thinks they know backward and forward and say, “Fellas, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet”?

I yearn for something original when I read books. I want to be surprised and entertained by the experience, so I am obsessed with putting something new into the over-worked and overpopulated genres in which I write. I have to be passionate about a book before I can write it, so discovering something unique is essential to lighting that fire.

If you were given the power to imprint a unique monster of your own creation into the cultural consciousness what would it be?

I think my “skin eaters” from the Variant Effect are leaving a mark on readers. I sure have a lot of fun writing them, and I suspect their back story might be sufficiently believable and unsettling to leave a lasting impression. They give me the creeps.

[Albert here: ya’ll can meet the skin eaters for yourselves in Mr. Taylor’s books The Variant Effect and The Variant Effect: GreenMourning. They are super creepy. But don’t take my word for it. Go. Read.]

Conversely, if you were given the power to completely remove one single work of fiction from the pages of history and the minds of men, what would it be?

That’s a hard one. I’ve got too many favorites to focus on a single work of fiction that doesn’t turn my crank. It is a rare book that I will put down once I’ve started reading it. There is usually something of value in every piece of fiction.

From what I can tell, you’ve started self-publishing your books digitally before it was “cool”. What led you down that path? Were you rejected by the mainstream publishing world, or did you always know you wanted to be a solo act?

Historically, the Canadian government has subsidized Canadian publishers in an effort to mitigate the cultural impact of the much larger American publishing industry. Those subsidies went to Canadian publishers and fiction writers that focused on Canadian stories: culture, immigration and history.

So Canadian genre fiction writers were “solo acts” whether we liked it or not.

That left me sending manuscripts to American publishing slush piles. As you know, just prior to the eBook Revolution there were few traditional publishers who accepted unsolicited manuscripts. So the search was on for an agent. When I read that few literary agents were accepting unsolicited manuscripts, I began to think that my books would end up in an attic to be discovered by a relative long after I was dead. While an imperfect outcome, it would have to do.

However, a friend in IT and now business partner, Richard Van Dyk had assured me over the years that developments in technology would eventually push the old publishing industry model to the wayside, and opportunity would come for independent writers through digital content, electronic reading devices and the Internet. He used the rapidly changing music industry model of the time as an example.

While I had my doubts, I soldiered on and started publishing my work online, then after a few missteps with the under-utilized print-on-demand technology, the eBook came into being. That eBook publishing technology validated independent writers, and allowed me to connect directly to the reader.

Compared to many of the people I know in self-publishing you’re substantially…more mature. Do you feel that your age and experience gives a leg up on your younger competition? Or does the generational gap cause more problems than good?

I think Indie publishing is moving onto a relatively even playing field where talent is free to trump all other factors. Age and experience have just made me more disciplined. I’m better at committing my time and doing the work.

I’m gonna geek out for a minute here and say, that I absolutely LOVE your “P.I. in Zombietown” character Wildclown. Where did the idea for a hardboiled private investigator who happens to dress in full clown regalia come from?

Years ago I was working at a psychiatric hospital in a northern Canadian city that was also home to a doomsday cult. Its members dressed up as zombies and the Grim Reaper. They seemed to do this randomly, appearing Monday morning, Wednesday afternoon or Friday night, at any time of year.

Needless to say, after the initial amusement wore off, they became a little depressing. Imagine strolling down the street on a sunny day and passing a gang of fake zombies chanting about the end of the world. I had at that time developed a voracious appetite for hard-boiled detective fiction, a genre I wanted to try my hand at writing. So one day as I passed the zombie horde, I heard a wisecracking voice inside my head that I soon recognized as Wildclown. Mix in a few late nights, a typewriter and Canadian Club whiskey and you’ve got a P.I. in Zombietown.

The doomsday cult’s costumes may have inspired Wildclown’s need to disguise his true identity. The fact that he chose a gothic clown might have had something to do with my interest in Shakespearean tragedies in which insightful “fools” are always popping up at the worst of times.

Speaking of hard-boiled private investigators, a lot of your leading men tend to be hard-drinking, fast-living, loners. What is it about that kind of character that speaks to you?

I find the hard-boiled perspective an excellent way of viewing our world where the gray area has bled into the black and white. It is a practical mindset soaked in defiance, humor and skepticism. The first-person narrative of Raymond Chandler’s Marlowe or Dashiell Hammett’s Continental Op was an echo of the inner monologue I was already hearing on the long nights I spent writing.

Shoot us some sage words of writing wisdom. What can the rest of us struggling writers do to up our fiction game?

Just do the work and add something to it every day. Take lots of notes and organize them. Be prepared and trust the process. Get someone to edit, and someone to read. If you feel anxious, depressed or grumpy, you should probably be writing.

Beginnings for Beginners

I am a literary hobo. I panhandle my way through the library, I paw through the dumpsters of remaindered books at Barnes and Noble, I shop the discarded treasures at the local Goodwill.

And, of course, because I can often pick them up for cheap or free I read self-published stories.

There’s a lot of good out there in the self-publishing world. It’s true that there’s more bad stuff than good stuff, but on the whole I haven’t had difficulty finding compelling books that were competently edited and reasonably well-written.

But.

When reading self-published books I’m aware that what I’m seeing many times is the work of someone new to the writing scene. Someone who is still polishing their craft, who hasn’t had access to the professional feedback the “real” writers get. (This is another blog post all on it’s own, but make sure you’re getting someone who knows what they’re talking about and isn’t afraid of hurting your feelings to read your stuff and give feedback before you hit “publish”. Listen to what they say. It will make a world of difference.)

And in reading these stories there’s one thing that I’ve noticed many new writers have a hard time getting right. The beginning.

See, beginnings are important and difficult things. Actually stories are important and difficult things, but I’ve only got a few hundred words here so lets focus our attention shall we?

Beginnings have to do a lot of work. They have to introduce the main characters, they have to set up the story world, they have to set the tone of the story.

And most people get that stuff right. Even the beginning writers I’ve seen faltering at this, usually understand the basics of setting up the story. But the problem is that beginnings have to do more than just set things up. They have to set the hook.

How?

A good opening scene makes the reader ask a question. It doesn’t really matter that the question is. It could be, “Why does a fifteen-year-old girl have a unicorn in her room?” or “Why is a cyborg fighting through a horde of aliens with a paper heart stapled to his chest?”

That advice you’ve heard about opening your story in the middle of the action? It’s fine to do that —though I would argue not completely necessary— but the action can’t just be there to look pretty; it has to plant a question in the reader’s mind.

Note however that the opening scene shouldn’t do the asking directly. You drop a line like, “So, have you noticed that John disappears every month around the time of the full moon? Wonder what that’s about.” and you’ve just lost about half of your readers.

Instead, the opening scene insinuates the question into the reader’s mind. It makes him believe that he came up with the question all on his own. And that makes him care about the answer. That’s why this moment is so important. Because that question is what is going to pull your reader further into the story looking for answers.

Of course the question and answer cycle doesn’t end at the opening scene. The beginning is just…well the beginning. Making your readers keep turning the pages looking for answers is what drives good fiction forward. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: in the end, all good stories are mysteries.

So take a look at your opening scene. Be sure it’s going to make the reader ask the question you want him to ask.

Because the reader will ask a question. Your job is to make sure that question isn’t, “Why am I reading this?”

The Journey

A few days ago I engaged in a discussion with a writer friend about how it seems that so many beginning writers are trying to write fast, get something out there quick, perhaps without taking the time to really perfect their art or get their story in quite the right place. And this friend —Tony Southcotte by name— suggested that perhaps the reason there is so much focus on getting a first work out so quickly is because of the potential writers see for financial gain.

Because, lets face it, most of us want to get paid to do this. I’m sure I do. I won’t quit if I don’t, but getting to leave behind my dead-end no-importance job for the opportunity to be able to be paid to write would be basically the best thing ever. And every beginning writer thinks that they’re going to be the one who breaks out early with the instant best-seller, adored by millions around the world, their talent spoken of in hushed tones by popular figures and intellectuals alike.

I know this because that’s what I thought when I started. And I’m not sure anyone could have convinced me otherwise. So I’m not going to waste my time trying to tell you that you’re writer’s journey won’t be a magical and perfect rocket trip to financial and social prosperity. No doubt you’re going to be the one to break the rules and redefine the industry as we know it.

But to everyone else I have something to say.

You’re thinking about this wrong. You’re thinking about the writing as a means to an end. You think that it’s at least possible that if you write a novel that everyone loves, you’ll become rich and famous soon thereafter. So you work hard to get the novel out there as fast as you can, so the money can start rolling in.

And maybe it doesn’t happen the way you expected. No, sorry, I forgot. You were the one who was the exception right? I was talking to the guy at the other internet connection. You carry on.

Where was I? Right. The means to an end.

See, I can’t honestly offer very much deep and meaningful writing advice with any kind of authority because I haven’t had that success we all dream of. But one thing I do know. The writing isn’t the journey. It’s the destination.

You’ve got to fall in love with what it is we do as writers. And what we do is not primarily to make money. That’s a side effect. A bonus. A party favor.

What we do is write.

It’s sounds trite, and maybe it is. But this is my fear. You’re going to go through the “I’m going to be rich and famous one day” stage, and that’s fine, but assuming you’re dreams don’t turn out the way you want you’re going to need to have something press on toward. You’re going to get that fourth or fifth rejection letter and it’s going to sting hard, and because your dream didn’t come true quite the way you’re hoped you’re going to face a serious temptation to give up. I know I did.

And when that time comes, assuming it hasn’t already, you’re going to need to rethink your assumptions about why you’re doing this. You’re going to have to look yourself in the mirror and think, “Is this really worth it? Going after this dream that seems to far away every day with no promise that I’ll ever be successful?” And when that moment comes I hope you remember this post.

Because that is the moment I believe you truly become a writer. That moment of doubt and fear can be the end of you as a writer or it can be the beginning of a new era. When you’ve come through that fire you can start to see writing for what it is. Only then can you understand that the act of creation is the thing and the whole of the thing.

That’s when you can turn away from the fear of rejection truly begin to write for yourself. That when it becomes less about how quickly you’re writing and more about how well you’re writing.

And that is the moment when you can begin to create something that can truly be called art.