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June 2, 2009


Filed under: Uncategorized — thirdxlucky @ 5:54 pm

I would like to publish something non-academic before I’m 30. Which, given that I’m a breath away from 28, means I should really get on that. In part, this requires thinking about what entails ‘publication’ in the digital age. But, in larger part, it just requires writing a lot. A whole lot. A whole lot more than I do right now.

Here’s a summary of Octavia Butler’s prescriptions for wannabe writers, from an essay deliciously titled “Furor Scribendi”:

1. Read. […]
2. Take classes and go to writers’ workshops. […]
3. Write. Write every day. […]
4. Revise your writing until it’s as good as you can make it. […]
5. Submit your work for publication. […]
6. Here are some potential impediments for you to forget about:

First, forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you whether you’re inspired or not. Habit will help you finish and polish your stories. Inspiration won’t. Habit is persistence in practice.

Forget talent. If you have it, fine. Use it. If you don’t have it, it doesn’t matter. As habit is more dependable than inspiration, continued learning is more dependable than talent. […] Persistence is essential to any writer — the persistence to finish your work, to keep writing in spite of rejection, to keep reading, studying, submitting work for sale. […]

Finally, don’t worry about imagination. You have all the imagination you need, and all the reading, journal writing, and learning you will be doing will stimulate it. Play with your ideas. Have fun with them. Don’t worry about being silly or outrageous or wrong. So much of writing is fun. It’s first letting your interests and imagination take you anywhere at all. Once you’re able to do that, you’ll have more ideas than you can use. Then the real work of fashioning them into a story begins. Stay with it.


It’s stuff we’ve heard a million times before – but she encapsulates it all so concisely, firmly and encouragingly into four short pages, I want to hang it on my wall. But my intent wasn’t to make this into Octavia Butler Gushfest Pt. 2…

Asa’s agreed to let me take point on coordinating the Writing Group he’s been wanting to start. My confidence in myself as a writer may ebb and flow, but if there’s one thing I have faith in my ability to do, it’s organizing people. It makes so much sense to use that skill in the interest of improving my writing that I feel dumb for not having realized it before. I’ve always thought of writing as something one must do in the deepest solitude – and, in a certain way, just like everyone ultimately dies alone, ultimately you must write alone…

But if my raisons d’etre are to write and build community (which they are), it makes sense not only to write things that encourage community-building, but to write in ways that build community and to build community in ways that support writing – perhaps not just my own.

This is a small beginning place. We’ll see where it goes.


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