If you were to take all of the writing advice on the Internet and turn it into a liquid commodity, absorbing it all would be like trying to drink from a fire hose.
So I try to pick and choose the stuff that A) I feel is relevant to me, and B) I feel I can personally do.
A great man often said to me "Where there is no vision, the people perish." I get the impression I ought to have a vision for myself. I've had goals, dreams, even fantasies of what I want to achieve, but I've never been able to compress it into a single cogent thought, and I've wondered how to do that.
Dan Wells said his vision was to become the Stephen King of YA. He's published half a dozen books, and based on the John Cleaver trilogy alone he's probably on track to do what he's set out to do. And that's great. How do I capture that same vision?
I've chewed on that for years now. Maybe there's some author that I want to emulate, right? But whom?
Do I want to become the Louis L'Amour of YA? That'd be great, but my life hasn't been nearly as interesting as his. I haven't traveled as far, learned as much, or done the caliber of things that he's done to lend that degree of authenticity to my creative voice. I can match him (or at least approach him) on certain things, but not on his level, and I don't expect that I will. I'd have to emulate his life too closely and I find that impractical, even undesirable, for a number of reasons.
Maybe I want to be the Ernest Hemingway of YA? Well, aside from the fact that I've only read one single Hemingway in my whole life, that's problematic. He and I have three things in common:
1) We're American dudes.
2) We write.
3) We were born on July 21.
Those commonalities are not enough to overcome the differences between us.
1) He was notoriously a cat person, whereas I am allergic.
2) He was an alcoholic near the end, whereas I am and always shall be a Mormon teetotaler.
3) He was a military veteran and could write a knock-down drag-out fistfight based on true life experience, whereas I lost every fight that ever came my way in school.Don't get me wrong, I love his quotes and his life story and I plan to read more of his work, I just see too much disparity to want to model myself after him.
So what then, do I want to become the Michael Crichton of YA? That's a tall order. The man's sci-fi was 93% sci and only 7% fi. He was wicked smart, in a way that I don't plan to be. My style is already so distinct from his that trying to reconcile it to his would be counterproductive...and maybe even artistically dishonest with myself. Doesn't mean I don't like his concepts, or that his work wasn't hugely inspiring to me as a young boy.
This is what I've been up against for years as I've tried to figure out my vision. Well, it finally came to me, as a result of a number of things. I nailed it down, and here it is.
Make them come to me.
That's my goal. That's how I'm going to write and publish. I'm having the damndest time getting another agent, and even small press venues are blowing up in my face (for all KINDS of reasons.) I still believe in the process, in the importance of publishing with larger houses and with getting an agent and all that, but my real passion is in writing and creating. I want to always be writing, always be creating, and always be publishing, even if it's self-pub or ePub or whatever. I can submit stuff for as long as it takes, provided I get to write while I wait.
And I want to write good stuff, the stuff people would recommend to a friend. The stuff that would get famous on its own, and make an agent put down his/her slush pile and say I'd better give this bro a call. I am tired of playing the game as currently constituted. I want to do it right, but I also want to do it my way.
I want to make them come to me. I want Suzanne Collins to read my books when she's bored on the weekends. I want J.K. Rowling to read my eBooks on a trans-Atlantic flight and think, Not bad. I want agents to query me. I want to be good enough to earn that. And that's where I'd rather expend my energy and effort for the next several years.
It's a tall order. Taller than all git-out, as we say in Hendertucky. I don't care. It's the order I am fine trying to fill. And I'll keep at it, as long as it takes.
That is all.
Get back to work.