Some Advice I've Found Useful
- "Advice is worth exactly what you pay for it" - My Dad.
- "It doesn't matter WHAT you write about. You could write about a cheese sandwich. What matters is HOW you write about it" - My first ever Creative Writing Teacher.
- "Write now, edit later." - Stephen King in "On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft," and also every writing professor ever. It's easy to get lost in the editing and then get down on yourself for not completing anything. Get it all out on to the page first. Then go back.
- "Write intoxicated. Edit sober." - friends. This advice has proved sometimes useful tbh. If you don't have motivation, get intoxicated. * I am not condoning any bad behaviour. Be responsible kids.
- "You can't just sit there and put everyone's lives ahead of yours and think that counts as love" - Stephen Chbotsky's "The Perks of Being a Wallflower," a book I read in high school.
Just as important--if not more important-- than what books you read is WHEN you read those books. Perks came into my life at just the right time and left a lasting impact. It was the first tattoo I put on my body. It's still something I find myself forgetting. It's so easy to lose yourself trying to love somebody else "properly," but if that somebody else truly loved you they would not ask you to water yourself down at all. This quote boils down to one thing for me: Look after me first and foremost, and if anyone asks me to forget myself in order to love them then they ain't it. That doesn't count as love.
As an adult I can see how Sam's character in Perks is a manic pixie dream girl, and I know that if I read the book again now I likely would not like it as much as when I first read it, but that doesn't change the meaning that this quote held and still holds for me.
- "Know your worth. Then add tax." - an Instagram post. I LIVE by this quote. Again, don't let anybody ask you to water yourself down. In fact, expect to be treated better than you even think you deserve. Add that tax. Your time is valuable. Your talent is valuable. Your presence is valuable. Expect to be treated as such.
- "Having your nipples peak through your shirt when you're not wearing a bra is a form of accessorizing" - An Instagram post found on @bellesaco. Free the titties.
- "He's an artist, he should know that's what you get for dating a writer." - My friend when I was worried about sharing a poem about a past partner. No identifying details in the poem. Nobody but this partner would know it was him but I was still worried. But at the end of the day it is my story to share, and as long as names or clear identifying details aren't shared it is not defamation. I write in large part to heal so my writing is often intensely personal, but I also want to continue and write professionally so I need to share this intensely personal work. This is a very emotionally exhausting thing to do and also incredibly nerve-wracking because it's a part of you that you're inviting the world to critique. Roland Barthes wrote "The Death of the Author" where he essentially says that once the author shares their work with the public they cease to be. The audience owns that work now. Their interpretation is the truth. I was so scared to share a piece of myself--a story about myself and a past partner--that was still an open wound, and invite any old stranger to read it and dislike it. Or worse, not believe me. I was scared that if this partner read it he would confront me. Or turn others against me. I found myself spiraling and my friend reminded me, contrary to Barthes' words, that it's my story and I have the freedom to share it. That's what he gets for dating a writer.
No matter who reads it and what they say about it my truth remains my truth. Barthes can stick it. And I've come to know that many women have survived similar experiences, and that knowledge makes me want to share these vulnerable stories even more. I believe them, and I hope that the audience I want will believe me.
- "Pay contributors. Pay people for their labour" - This wasn't given to me anywhere but it is something that oooohhh gets my blood boiling. Artistic labour is still labour, and in many ways it takes more from the artists than say, administrative work. Artists invest huge parts of themselves and huge amounts of personal time into their work and deserve to be compensated for that labour. Sometimes I find myself wondering if what I'm doing is even worth it if I am sharing so much of myself for no more than a shoutout in an online journal. Of course, this opens up another bucket because many journals don't pay contributors because they don't have the means to. They don't have the money themselves. So please take art seriously. Invest in the journals and artistic projects in your community if you can. The sentiment, "if you do what you love you never work a day in your life" is toxic because it keeps artists from getting paid, believing that it's not "real work." Artistic labour IS labour. Plain and simple. This stands for writers, makeup artists, painters, sketch artists, tattoo artists, actors, dancers, the list goes on.
- "Forgive your past self." - probably a therapist. This is so much easier said than done, I know, and hindsight is 2020 but I find it true and still remind myself daily of it. We learn as we grow and it's easy to blame ourselves for not knowing better when no one could have expected us to know better. Be kind to yourselves y'all <3