A writer has to be hungry
A while ago I had the chance to listen to Bruce Sterling at a genre book convention.
It was a surreal experience, because I had just talked with an Italian publishing agent in the in the business of fighting "the English cultural hegemony over the fiction market". Sterling, which probably wasn't given a memo, was suggesting Italian authors to work more with academia. What did he mean? The jury's still out on that one.
I had dragged myself over there in an attempt of networking.
As the lunatic grown up that I am, socializing doesn't come easy; worse still I hate marketing with a burning passion and it feels really awkward to push my work as a writer.
All of this to say, I was exhausted. In this strange and slightly depressed state of mind, I asked Sterling:
"What would be your advice to a young author?"
Let us bask in how stupid a question this was. Sterling, and props to him, didn't waste any time pointing it out.
"I think when you're young you are brash, passionate and possibly opinionated, and you need to lean into that. Old writers like me tend to get set in their ways and write all the same things, after a while."
He then proceeded to explain to me how I should focus on writing about cryptocurrencies in sci-fi settings, but I won't digress.
The point here is: I had fallen in the same old trick of respecting old masters. I was literally asking a man twice my age for direction.
The saying goes, if you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him.
I went back to why I have the compulsion to write. As I kid I didn't want for anything more than to find myself in Sterling's position, one day. I didn't really want to write, I wanted to be published. One is an action, the other is status.
Nowadays I realize I might never achieve any kind of popularity and it's ok. This is not what bothers me. What bothers me is that I want my stories to be read. I have shit I need to tell, and it's not fun talking to a wall. This is my drive. Which brings us to today's TED talk:
A writer has to be hungry. I don't necessarily mean running on an empty stomach and struggling to make end meets. Side note: most people that went through no-nonsense issues like that are likely to have some really insightful stories to tell.
A writer has to be hungry, in the sense that she has to have a pretty strong drive. And it'd better be something raw, primal, and possibly human.
So let's be brash. Let's not strive to achieve the fucking status nor the damn money. If those are your goals, let me tell you that writing is quite a convoluted way to get there, and you would probably be better served elsewhere. Let's not cut down trees to repeat the same platitudes over and over again. If you need to write, make it mean something. Make it worthwhile.