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Advice from the Short Story Masters


toujours gai, archie
A couple of things jumped out at me. One, the statements are all highly personal, unique to that author and not directly applicable to any other. Two, none of them say anything about writing for an audience. They're all writing for themselves, as a craft.

Both of these resonate with me. I'm as hungry as anyone for advice, tips, direction. But in the end I know it's just me and the page and a long list of my own mistakes, many of them repeated. Writing is a bit like parenting. You read lots of books and articles, listen to your friends, but day by day you just have to make the call yourself

And writing is a craft. I'm making a bit of something--poem, novel, short story--and my principal focus is on the thing itself. Even in the late editing stages, when I do think a bit more about how something might strike a reader, I'm still mostly focused on my own ear and my own heart. Does it sound right? Does it touch me? If it rings false, if it leaves me cold, then I've more work to do. And that's about all there is to it. I can hope there's an audience. I can even imagine an audience. But day by day there's just me and the words, and I'm fine with that.