Tag Archives: art

Why we need the dark imagination. Me + Sarah Maria Griffin on AEWCH 93

10 Dec
LISTEN HERE OR ON iTunesSpotifyOvercastSoundcloud
This podcast is only possible because listeners like you support it. Do contribute to my mission by supporting Against Everyone With Conner Habib on Patreon!  Thank you so, so much.
AEWCH93TitleCardFriends,
Let’s enter the mystery together: You, me, and dark science fiction writer Sarah Maria Griffin. Let’s talk about violence and evil and owls. Let’s think about David Lynch’s uncanny power, and how magic works, how horror works. Let’s approach the paranormal, the dreadful, the uncommon.
Sarah is the author of multiple books, most recently the excellent novel, Other Words For Smoke, about a brother and sister encounter the sinister and strange forces in their aunt’s house. The book just won the Eason Teen/Young Adult Book of the Year 2019 here in Ireland. Her previous novel, Spare And Found Parts chronicles a post-apocalyptic world with a hopeful girl at its center, trying to move humanity forward while her machine heart ticks away.
Sarah and I had a profound and potent conversation, and after we finished the episode, we continued to talk about the entire world, and love, and fortune. And then all the lights on my block switched off. Now that’s a powerful connection!
This is one of my favorite episodes of AEWCH ever. As Sarah says at the end, we “move immediately past…small talk.” Couldn’t ask for anything more.
So excited to share it with you!
We discuss:
  • Magic, the paranormal and why they’re so troubling for people
  • Twin Peaks as evil and threat and occult power
  • Horror is No-One-Believes-You, Fantasy is We-All-Knew-This-Was-Real-Even-Though-You’re-Just-Learning-About-It
  • Why investigating mystery can fuck you up
  • Not-knowing as an act of compassion
  • Sarah’s leap in style and vulnerability in writing
  • Following desire and characters
  • The unendingness of Hell
  • Why questions are always appropriate tools
  • The tarot as anatomy (and why it gives us unsolicited dick pics sometimes)
  • What a world of caring about subjectivity looks like (and why Freud got that right)
  • Why there is no metric for violation or resilience
  • Fiction as a generator of compassion and empathy
  • The importance of speaking poetically
SHOW NOTES
• For more on Sarah, read her entertaining and thoughtful one-year memoir, Not Lost: A Story About Leaving Home. Here are here contributions to the legendary Irish lit magazine, The Stinging Fly. And here’s Sarah talking about empathy.
TP• I’m sure you’ve all seen Twin Peaks, but have you seen the newest season? It’s utterly terrifying and completely challenging. It is a true act of occult intensity. The episode we talk a lot about it Part 8. 
• Sarah mentions the eclectic and wonder-filled story collection Her Body And Other Parties by the great Carmen Maria Machado. She also gives a shout out to Leslie Jamison’s poignant collection of essays, The Empathy Exams.
James Tate was a Pulitzer Prize- and National Book Award-winning poet. He was an infrequent but happy friend of mine, as well. He died in 2015.
• If you’re American, you’ve probably heard of the spooky immersive theater experience, Sleep No More. If not, check it out.
• I really love the episode I did with experimental punk musician and author Tim Kinsella – AEWCH 43. He’s a hero of mine, and I feel blessed to have had the conversation. I posted a playlist on spotify of Tim’s music to go along with that episodes. It demonstrates his breadth and strangeness and inventiveness as an artist.
KD• A couple of first lines come quick on each other’s heels. First, I mention the first line of Sarah’s novel, Spare And Found Parts: “Just under the surface of the waves where the ocean met the land, a hand without a body reached for someone to grab it.” And then I mention the chilling first line of Kathryn Davis’s novel, Hell. “Something is wrong in the house.”
• Want to read Alejandro Jodorowsky on the tarot? Read his book on it, co-authored with Marianne Costa.
• I mention, briefly, a man who was harassing Sarah and other women in Ireland, and how she was compassionate in her response. For a quick summary of what happened, here’s an article in the Irish Times about it.
• There’s a great book by anthroposophist and inkling Owen Barfield on the move away from poetics and towards flat literalism. It’s titled Poetic Diction: A Study In Meaning.
Until next time,
XO
CH
lungfish

AEWCH 90: Amanda Palmer + Conner Habib + Everyone. We are all here for each other.

12 Nov
LISTEN HERE OR ON iTunesSpotifyOvercastSoundcloud
Contribute to my mission.
Support Against Everyone With Conner Habib
on Patreon!
The show is funded exclusively by listeners like you, so I’m asking, will you support it? Thank you so, so much.
promo
Friends,
What an honor to go deep into the ways we are all connected with rock star, writer, TED Talker, and activist Amanda Palmer. Amanda is known for many things – her music, her band The Dresden Dolls, her book The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help which was kicked off by her TED talk, “The art of asking” – but all of her accomplishments stress a spirit of giving and vulnerability.
We start with me recounting an event from the week before, when I intervened and stopped a man from committing suicide, and from there, we talk about the many, many ways in which we are all here for each other. This is an episode compassion, which means “to suffer with.” It’s about the jobs that artists have in our world, about the ways we close ourselves off from connection, about art and motherhood, about mutualism in animals, and more.
And yes, we both cry.
I’m so proud to share this episode, friends, and I hope it brings light to you.
Do contribute to Amanda’s patreon. Amanda has done so much for artists, particularly by laying the foundation for grassroots and associative economies.

SHOW NOTES

• For more on Amanda, here’s a spotify playlist I’ve made of 10 songs by Amanda (and her band the Dresden Dolls) that I love. Amanda is married to world-renowned fantasy author, Neil Gaiman, and they record an entire event together (it’s great). And here’s a great (and mulled over on my show) Amanda appearance on Tim Ferris’s podcast.
• Here’s my little twitter tribute (in thread form) to Lynn Margulis. Stay tuned to future episodes for more on Lynn and her work.
• Amanda and I interacted for the first time when she was kind enough to repost my exclusive blog post of a speech by Tilda Swinton about art and light. The speech is stunning, and I was lucky enough to get it from Tilda’s friend, author William Middleton.
• Unfortunately, Tatsuo Motokawa’s classic article, “Sushi Science and Hamburger Science” is behind a paywall, but it’s worth reading.
• Here’s travel writer Pico Iyer’s TED Talk, “What ping-pong taught me about life“.
• If you’d like to read a bit on occult theories of how music works, check out AEWCH 45 with occult musician Ben Chasny, and also read The Harmony of the Human Body: Musical Principles in Human Physiology by Armin Husemann.
• Read Amanda’s poem for the brother of the Boston Marathon bomber “A Poem For Dzhokhar

MY

• There’s a great book by Walter Kendrick about how the ruins of ancient Pompei turned into porn called The Secret Museum: Pornography in Modern Culture.
• I have yet to listen to Madison Young‘s podcast, but it is SO on the list now.
• A great self help book that I think can help anyone who wants some help is How to Be an Adult: A Handbook for Psychological and Spiritual Integration by David Richo.
• Amanda was reading Jonathan Safran Foer’s We Are the Weather: Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast and I recommend his book Eating Animals.
• The Roisin that Amanda mentions is Roisin Ingle, who created The Women’s Podcast.
• Actually, the Brian O’Connor episode came out just before this one! It’s AEWCH 89!
• Read Sophie Lewis‘s (dream guest for the show!) Full Surrogacy Now: Feminism Against Family for a truly challenging examination of motherhood, pregnancy, and work.
• I wrote about my mother’s death in my essay, “When You’re Sick You’ll Wait For The Answer But None Will Come
• I talk more about detachment and sex work on AEWCH 44 with writers Kelly Link and Jordy Rosenberg.
I’ll leave you here with the lyrics from Amanda’s beautiful song, “A Mother’s Confession” which is on the spotify playlist I made of Amanda’s music.
Our son is four months old his name is Anthony or Ash for short
And he’s too small to do things by himself
We were in LA over Christmas in a rental and we jury-rigged a place
To change his diapers on a shelf
I was peeing in the bathroom and had left him for a second
‘Cause I thought he couldn’t move and he was safe
As I came out I saw him falling in slow motion to the floor
It was probably the worst moment of my life
And then I accidentally stole a thing of chapstick from the safeway
I didn’t see it ’til I got out to the car
I would have usually returned it but I was overwhelmed
And late to take the baby to my cousins which was far away
In my defense, I’d bought like $87 worth of groceries
And the chapstick was a $1.99
I know it wasn’t the right thing to use
My newborn child as an excuse
But it felt like a good reason at the time
And as I pulled out of the parking lot I cried
And as I pulled onto the highway I said right
At least the baby didn’t die right?
At least the baby didn’t die
And then we went to Sarasota
To see Neil’s cousin Helen
For her birthday she just turned ninety-nine
We were also there for Sidney
Who was ninety-four two days before
But he was sick, so mostly it was Ash and Helen time
She survived the Warsaw ghetto
And she always says I love you”
When she sees you ’cause she knows you never know
She’d worked for months while I was pregnant
On a gorgeous handmade blanket
Her almost-hundred-year-old hands crocheting every row
I’d been emailing her pictures of the baby and the blanket
Every day since she had sent it in the mail
But they were of one that someone else had knitted
She was really nice about it
Then I went and shoplifted a pair of ugly sunglasses
From Goodwill (they were on my head
I’d tried them on and left them there)
But that’s not really bad compared to
When we left the baby in the car
At least he wasn’t in there very long
And not directly in the sun
And thank god no-one walking by happened to notice what we’d done
I’m even scared to put these lyrics in a song
But
Everything is relative and everyone’s related
I can’t do that much right now
But take care of this baby
I figure everything’s technically all right
If at least this baby doesn’t die
And then I took a plane to Washington alone
So we could visit Jason Webley who’s his godfather
He’s playing the accordion
I couldn’t wait to see him and share tales of our disasters
Over dinners in his houseboat when I saw I’d lost my passport
So I got a rush appointment at the place where you replace them
And I drove the baby in and on the way I got a speeding ticket
When the cop came to the window I was shaking and I said “I’m sorry”
But you couldn’t hear me that’s how loud the sound of screaming was
Cause he was hungry and I think that I was speeding
Cause I panic when I hear him cry
My god what kind of a mother am i
And as I pulled out of the breakdown lane I cried
And as I pulled out on the highway I said right
At least the baby didn’t die right?
At least the baby didn’t die”
While I was waiting for my passport I was hungry so
I twittered for a coffee in the neighborhood
And there I saw a woman who was sitting at the bar
And it was noon and she was drinking
And she called across the diner to me How old is your baby?”
And she smiled at us nursing
And she said she had a daughter who was grown
And then she paused
And said she also had a son
And when I’d paid and was about to leave
I picked him up and crossed the room and touched her sleeve
I said, Hey, this baby wanted to say hi”
And she held him tight and she started to cry
And I’m sorry that this story’s gotten long
And that everybody’s crying in this song
And then I got back in the car I turned the radio and heater on
And sat there with the baby in the back
And they were talking about Syria and climate change and ISIS
And the candidates’ positions on Iraq
I feel so useless in this universe
I know I could be doing worse
I’m trying hard to stay at peace inside
I know it’s hard to be a parent
But this mess is so gigantic
i wonder if I should have had a child
And as I pulled out of the parking lot I cried
And as I pulled out on the highway I said
right
At least the baby didn’t die
At least the baby didn’t die
EVERYBODY:
At least the baby didn’t die!! right?!
At least the baby didn’t die!!
(i may not make it to the passport place on time!)
At least the baby didn’t die
(and they might revoke my license for a while!!)
At least the baby didn’t die
(and I might get caught for retroactive theft!!)
At least the baby didn’t die
(and I might get turned into the DSS!)
But at least the baby didn’t die
Until next time, friends,
XO
CH
Amanda

photo by Michael Murchie

Our hearts vs The neoliberal capitalist tech imperialist nightmare. Una Mullally on AEWCH 87!

23 Oct
AEWCH87 Title CardFriends,
In a nearly double-length and incredibly wide-ranging, I talk with journalist, editor, activist, and podcaster Una Mullally about the erosion of old structures and the possibility of new ones. Not just the government, but the environment, our relational structures, our spiritual structures, and more.
We talk at length on how neoliberalism and tech imperialism is eating the soul of Dublin, but our talk is by no means Ireland-specific. What we’re discussing at the core is how we fight against the consuming algorithms of neoliberalism and capitalism with our hearts and humanity. The reason we talk for so long isn’t merely because she’s Irish! It’s because we keep going deeper and deeper.
I was so excited to have this conversation with one of Ireland’s great minds.
Una is one of Ireland’s best known journalists, and one of the most incisive. She’s also the co-creator of the great podcast United Ireland, which chronicles the current landscape and history of Ireland, county by county. I can’t recommend a more accessible intro to this place I love so much.
On top of being an extremely prolific author, Una is also an activist, and much of that activism features in her work, including the book Repeal the 8th, which Una edited – an anthology work by women resisting misogynist abortion laws in Ireland (which features an essay by AEWCH 72 guest Sinead Gleeson!) Plus she’s written (briefly) about leprechauns, so how could I not be excited to speak with her?
Also on this episode:
  • When and why Una left the Catholic church
  • The tech gentrification of Dublin and everywhere
  • The cruelty of ugliness
  • Why Irish meter maids are the best
  • The ways neoliberals pretend to be the drivers of progress
  • Equality vs freedom
  • The uses and dangers of nationalism
  • The feeling of Ireland, and Irish people laughing at me for moving here
  • The mystic pulse of the Irish land
  • Why we need to fight oppression and heal trauma simultaneously
  • The zombification of party politics
  • Why relationship is the most important part of activism
  • Why facts no longer matter
  • How self indulgent emotional performativity holds back change
  • Giving conflict over to the angels
  • The problems with Extinction Rebellion

Want to go deeper? Look at the SHOW NOTES!

XO

CH

The occult power of music: Ben Chasny (Six Organs of Admittance) on Against Everyone with Conner Habib!

18 Oct
AGAINST EVERYONE with CONNER HABIB 45: BEN CHASY (SIX ORGANS OF ADMITTANCE) or OCCULT VIBRATIONS

AGAINST EVERYONE is fully funded by Patreon. Please support the show and contribute to my mission to bring deep but accessible conversations to the world, and you’ll also get great stuff. Signing up is easy, and contributions start at as little as a dollar per month.

LISTEN/SUBSCRIBE TO THE PODCAST VERSION

iTunesOvercastSpotifySoundcloudStitcher

SHOW NOTES on Patreon

Friends,

One of my favorite musicians, Ben Chasny (AKA Six Organs of Admittance) joins me on AEWCH to discuss the occult properties and relationships of tones, chords, and intervals. We don’t just discuss them, Ben plays them, and we see what happens; in particular we use Rudolf Steiner’s lectures on music (starting at 32:00) and the evolution of consciousness to lead us. Also, on the four occult bodies, feeling the music versus allowing music to grow out of itself, why we need to listen to and through the entire body, Billy Idol and Francoise Hardy, Deleuze and repetition in songs, Ben’s Hexadic system for composing, and why music makes us feel the way it makes us feel.

There are four (yes, four!) musical performances on this episode. Here are the songs and when they happen:

Journey Through Sankuan Pass: 59:20

Pilar: 1:18:10

Elk River: 1:20:30

Word for Two: 1:22:30

image1

Conner talks with one of his intellectual and artistic heroes: Cap’n Jazz & Joan of Arc frontman, Tim Kinsella. Music, the occult, creativity, disruption – all on AEWCH 43!

2 Oct

ALL PODCAST FORMATS

iTunesOvercastSpotifyStitcherSoundcloud

SUPPORT THE SHOW ON PATREON 

Friends,

Joan of Arc, Cap’n Jazz, Owls, and Make Believe frontman Tim Kinsella has long been a source of creative inspiration for me. So it was such an honor to have him on the show, and a pleasure to talk with him. The conversation is wide-ranging, but also intense.

We talk about music, of course; but also the occult, how art happens to us and why, the merits of making audiences uncomfortable, why utopia motivates us, modernism and ghosts.

As always, the show notes are on my patreon, click here to go deeper into the stuff we talk about!

TKS

Conner Habib + Abby Martin! AGAINST EVERYONE WITH CONNER HABIB Episode 2!

26 Jun

 

 

Welcome to the second episode of AGAINST EVERYONE with CONNER HABIB!

I’m so excited to have Abby Martin on the show! Abby is a radical political journalist, and host of Empire Files. She’s also an artist and activist.
Together, we talk how to sift through media and find trustworthy voices, politics, imperialism, Palestinian rights, and how to live in the intensities of our world.
Here’s a breakdown of the episode:
  • How Abby & I are CLEARLY Russian agents: 1:45
  • The Jill Stein Problem: 7:10
  • The longing for a politician we can believe in, no matter what he or she says: 10:00
  • The moment the scales fell from Abby’s eyes: 11:30
  • How conspiracies form when world views are shattered: 14:00
  • The exploitation of Seth Rich’s death: 16:00
  • Why gathering the evidence for a conspiracy is not enough: 18:35
  • La La Land as the expression of US anxieties: 21:30
  • Israel as a concentration of world issues and moral compass: 25:15
  • Media misrepresentation: 38:00
  • The difference between Chris Hedges’s despicable views on porn
    versus Noam Chomsky’s dumb but responsible ones: 40:30
  • Thinking original thoughts and Wittgenstein’s struggle: 46:00
  • Stumbling your way toward better politics: 53:25

Please support the show by SIGNING UP HERE. You get downloadable audio of every ep, access to Conner’s book club, extra episodes, and more
For SHOW NOTES with links there to some of the books, movies, and people I mention in this episode. CLICK HERE for all that.

Please share and use #AEWCH when you do!

Love,

CH

Conner Habib’s 10 Tips For Writers

19 Apr

cropped-chAs a writing coach and consultant, I’ve been helping writers sell their work, finish projects, improve their voices, and get better habits for nearly 15 years. Below are my 10 Tips For Writers. And no, they’re not the ones you’ve heard a million times before!

***

I’ve been writing almost daily since I was 7 years old, when I typed the first pages of a fantasy novel on my mom’s new and at the time cutting edge Apple IIc computer. (The book was about how awesome dragons are. That project remains in the unfinished bin, mostly because no one needs convincing that dragons are awesome.) In the 33 years between then and now, I’ve gotten my BA in creative writing, taken writing workshops, joined writers’ groups, pursued my MFA in fiction writing at University of Massachusetts, and more.

The bad news is: Most of the advice I’ve gotten along the way (and paid for) hasn’t been very good. There are two primary problems. First, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to writing. Writers, and their aesthetics, have different temperaments, different obstacles, different desires. But writing is rarely taught that way. As a result, as an emerging writer, I often felt like I was being asked to be the writer my teachers and peers expected me to be, rather than the writer I knew I was. The other problem was that the advice was generally just…bad. Vague. Ultimately meaningless. Stuff like, “What are the stakes here?” and “I don’t think the character would do that.” None of it was helpful, because one of it really meant anything.

The good news is: In wading through a lot of bad advice, learned a great deal about what really helps writers. The main thing being, if you want to write well, you have to be a better writer. Before you say, “Duh!” let me explain. The best advice for you as a writer, whether in the beginning of your career or the beginning of a new project, is advice that helps you discover your individual creative desires and process, then builds from there. It’s advice that helps you understand your relationship to writing and the things you write about and how you write, not some generic idea of what your writing is “supposed” to be like. That’s why this is a list of tips for writers, not writing.

Read on, and be the writer only you can be!

1. Writing is a part of who you are, not just something you do.

Writing is like conversation, it’s free; free financially and free in its contours and where it goes. A few rudimentary tools are needed, but other than that, it’s up to you. Writing playful. It’s totally unbounded except by its form: symbols. You can write anywhere. You can, like conversation, write from any state of mind, whether you’re happy, motivated, tired, sick, drunk, or anxious.

Have you ever met someone who doesn’t know how to shake hands or who simply can’t have an introductory conversation without being rude or abrasive? Writing is like that: When it’s good, it’s a sign that someone has done inner work. When it’s bad, it’s a sign that there’s inner work yet to be done. So my first tip is really just a concept that the rest grow from: Writing is a part of who you are.

deconstructed-typewriter2. Even though writing is free, it deserves some sacrifice.

To be made healthy, writing demands sacrifice. This means inner or behavioral development in one way or another. It means developing a different relationship to your life overall. Most commonly, that takes the form of reorienting to and creating time. People love to say, “I just wish I had time to write!” As a writing coach, I help writers create time. I have clients who have 9-5 jobs, 7-6 jobs, clients with two jobs and three kids, and guess what? They write.

There are ways to do it.

If your dream of writing is big enough, you’re willing to give up the lie that you don’t have time to do it. Make that your first sacrifice. And after that, keep in mind that a foundational question of being a writer is: What are you willing to give up?

3. Writing well requires rhythm.

That means picking a time to write and keeping your commitment to writing each day. Why? Another lie writers tell themselves is that they can only write when they’re inspired. But writing needs, instead, to be ritualized. If you write only when you feel inspired, or if you don’t write when you’re sick or tired or unhappy, you will not continue to write. Why should good writing show up for you if you keep changing plans?

Turn yourself into a rhythmic person who writes every day. I work with my clients to get them in writing patterns that are rhythmic and sustainable. When you get into a groove like that, the writing starts to appear more often, and it gets better and better.

4. Not writing is part of writing, so be a person who enjoys sitting.gettingthere

When you become rhythmic, making yourself an address for writing to show up in, there will still be days when it does not come. But don’t deceive yourself into thinking you’re not doing the work. Sitting is the work.

It’s a bit like owning a store: you open the shop, sometimes people come in and buy stuff, sometimes they don’t, but you still open the store each day.

Before you yawn, think of how amazing that is: You get to just sit and think about your creative project, dreaming about it, considering it from different angles. That’s not a drag. That’s awesome.

5. It’s not about being finished, it’s about knowing when to stop and when to keep going.

As a writer, you may never feel totally satisfied with your work. When you’re done with a story/essay/article/book/screenplay/etc., you may continue to feel a longing. Or at the beginning of a project, you may be plagued with doubt. I offer a service called a Writer’s Assessment. It’s a 90 minute meeting in which I talk to writers about their work and process. Very often they want to know “Am I a good writer?” This is a question that’s based on the idea that someone will realize that they’re good and then the doubt will go away and that’ll be that. But it’s a not a worthwhile question, because even if you’re good, even if you’re like Joyce Carol Oates good or Seamus Heaney good or fill-in-the-blank-with-your-favorite-amazing-writer good, you can still be better. Indeed, one of the hallmarks of being good is wanting to do better. (Note here though, “do better” is subtly different than “be better.”)

“Am I a good writer” is a garbage question. Throw it away. Start focusing on helpful ones like: How do I know when to stop writing? How do I know when to keep going? When do I apply my power to do better and when do I just let go and let the piece have its own life without me fiddling anymore?

It’s not about recognizing when it’s done, it’s about recognizing when you should stop or keep going.

6. Finish what you’ve started or abandon it completely.

Writers are haunted by incomplete projects. They’ll start a novel, get 100 pages in and quit. Don’t do it. Don’t stop once you’ve started unless you’re willing to let go entirely. Not only will you never finish the project you’ve stopped, you’ve made yourself unworthy of the story you wanted to create. If you abandon something, abandon it completely. Your thoughts that you “should” be writing it will slow up all future writing. That doesn’t mean you can’t come back to in a few years and rediscover it, but that can only happen when you’re a different person with a different outlook and therefore the whole thing is a different project. Keep going or let it go.

7. Writers read.

cropped-books.jpgI’m astounded by how many writers don’t read. This tip may be obvious but here it is: Writers – the successful and talented ones – read. They read often. Writers need to be inwardly and outwardly woven into a world of books, screenplays, essays, plays, comics, poems, and other writers. If you don’t give yourself over to the international community of writers and literary works, why should that community embrace you? And don’t just stick to reading stuff that’s like the stuff you write. Read widely as well as deeply. Cultivate talent and success as a writer by reading. Give loving attention to the literary world and you’ll be welcomed into it.

8. You can do anything you want.

Writers love to get stuck.

They love writing two thirds of a story and stopping dead in their tracks, unable to answer their own question of ,“how do I get from Point A to Point B?”

Here’s an example from one of my clients: He was writing a young adult novel, and he wanted to have a character sneak into a room to spy on some people. So there was all this twisting and turning to get the character through the only door to the room and remain unseen. How would the people in the room not notice this kid sneaking in? My client kept redesigning the room, trying to create distractions for the characters so the spy could get in, whatever. It was driving him crazy.

So I said, “Why don’t you just have your character in the room already by the time everyone enters?” Oh!

He’d worked himself into such a terrible corner trying to figure out how to deal with the confines he’d set for himself that he didn’t realize that there were no confines because he was the creator!

But there’s more to this tip. When I say you can do anything, I also mean: YOU CAN DO ANYTHING YOU CAN IMAGINE.

Want to write a 300 page novel that has a UFO show up for the first time on the last page and kill your two main characters? Nothing’s stopping you.

So you thought of a famous painting in the middle of your essay and want to include it? Go ahead!

Want to stop mid-play and have a character come to the front of the stage and discuss the merits of plastic wrap? Totally up to you.

Yes, you want to write well. But always keep in mind: You’re making this thing. It exists through and because of you. 

9. Style is a mood you generate out of yourself.

Huh? I know, this one sounds weird. But it’s so fundamental. When you’re writing well, when words and sentences and narratives are coming through you and they feel right, pay attention to the feeling. It’s a feeling only you have, and it’s style.

We tend to think of style of something we can observe when we’ve broken a piece of writing down into word choices and sentence structure. Sure, that’s how style emerges when a reader interacts with writing. But style for the author is a mood.

When you’re in that zone of writing well, you’ll get a feeling that is irreproducible elsewhere in life and is unique to you. It’s generated by you in the act of writing, and it’s your guide to when you’re at your best and purest. That doesn’t mean that every time you experience this mood you’re creating a masterpiece. As you get better as a writer, the feeling refines itself, just as when you refine your palate as you get a better sense of food and ingredients, etc. This mood — your style — is refined as you become a better writer.

10. Don’t listen to anyone who tells you how to write. For the most part.

Okay, okay, I’m being a little goofy here. Ending my list of advice with a call to disregard advice. Of course, the difference between this list and many others out there is that I’m focusing, mostly, on what it means to be a writer; the other lists often insist on telling you how you should write. But you’re an individual. You have your own desires, tastes, etc. That’s why writing groups, writing teachers, and how-to books can be disastrous. They can misdirect you or discourage your unique voice or give you a false sense of validation. The important thing is to become the writer that you are, not the sort of writer others are telling you you should be.

But that doesn’t mean complacency. Find the voices that resonate with you in a challenging way. In other words, ask yourself: What challenges feel right? Who’s offering me those challenges? That also means: if you find a teacher that gives you that sense (and yes, sure, it might be me!), keep up with him/her!

And of course, that’s a pitch…

If there’s an 11th tip, it’s this:

Hire me as your writing coach and consultant to take your writing to the next level and to completely transform your relationship to your creative process!

Click here or email me at connerwrites[at]gmail.com for details.

Onward, writer!

CH