Anne Rice, the author of Interview with the Vampire among many other things, has developed a remarkable relationship with her fans via her Facebook page. She posts regularly and frequently — and it really is her posting, not a staffer pretending to be her — on a wide variety of subjects ranging from archaeology to politics to which old movies she enjoys watching at night. She reveals a great deal of herself — I find it kind of adorable that a woman her age evidently has a tremendous crush on Jon Bon Jovi — and she engages with her fans who frequent the page to a highly unusual degree. I’ve had a couple of direct exchanges with her myself (we’ve shared our experiences as diabetics).
And of course, like many other writers who are active on social media or blogs, she offers a lot of practical advice and encouragement to those who would follow in her footsteps. Now, I don’t usually care what successful writers have to say about the craft or business, because I’ve read enough of their comments to know they all followed different paths to get where they are, and that one has to pretty much find your own way. And for me, all that advice is an abstraction anyhow, because I haven’t been writing in recent years, not fiction and not even as much here on the blog. In fact, lately I’ve been wondering if I even deserve to call myself a writer anymore, or if that’s something I ought to just try to let go of.
And that is probably why Anne Rice’s latest thoughts on writing, posted today, struck such a chord in me:
First and foremost: write. What makes an author is writing. Write no matter what. If you stop writing, start writing. Keep writing. If you go through a long period without writing, don’t get discouraged, start again. I don’t think it’s true that a “real writer” writes every day. I don’t write everyday and I think most people consider me a real writer. Just write in your own way. Protect your ideas and protect your material. Guard against criticism. If you hear something critical that helps you, take it, seize on it and use it. But if you hear a lot of bad things, don’t pay any attention. Just keep going. It’s very easy to criticize someone else’s writing. If you want an insight into how easy it is, just think of the classics you may not like personally, or how easy it is to make fun of them, or criticize them. It’s very easy for people to attack you and discourage you. Ignore them; be polite to them, but ignore them, and just keep going. Keep protecting your ideas and your work and stick with the feeling you have when you’re writing. If you enjoy what you’re writing, someone else is going to enjoy reading it someday. So just stick with that feeling; be faithful to that. Go where the pain is when you write; go where the pleasure is. Create the book that you would like to read, the book that you want to live in as a writer. Just keep going. Your first obligation, as Ernest Hemingway said, is to survive. To survive as a writer you have to have nerve, you have to be almost stubborn. There are many people who’ve told me I have no talent, and that my writing was no good. I simply ignored them. You have to do that if you want to succeed as a writer. The arts have always been rough. Nobody is really owned anything in the arts; nobody’s entitled to be published or to succeed. You do it by doing it. You do it by believing in yourself, and that faith in yourself is the most important thing you have.
“If you go through a long period without writing, don’t get discouraged, start again.” Those words give me hope that the flame hasn’t guttered out for good. Now, if I can just figure out how to actually, you know, do it…