Aspiring writers often ask me, “What the most important piece of writing wisdom you wish you knew when you were just starting out as a writer?” My answer is never what they expect. It’s not the tried-and-true “show, don’t tell” or “kill your darlings” advice we’ve all heard time and time again. It’s something much simpler. And in my opinion, something that would have saved me years of frustration, self-doubt, and self-judgment.
My most important piece of writing wisdom:
Of all the “writing rules,” this is the one almost every writer breaks.
It’s also the one that will always bite you in the ass if you break it.
If you break this rule, your story will punish you for it. Your plot will fall flat and your ending will fizzle. In fact, you might not even reach the end because your book will have given up on you long before you’re lucky enough to reach that point.
Here’s the rule:
Today’s interview is with Peter Gajdics, author of The Inheritance of Shame, one of the books that made my ‘Top 5 Memoirs of 2017’ list. Peter’s book is more than timely given what’s going on in the world today, and his answers to my questions awed and inspired me.
I was completely enthralled by your memoir—not only the subject matter, but the way it was so beautifully written. Can you tell me a little about the process of writing the book? Did you share it in workshops as it was being written, or did you keep it private until it was almost finished?
Writing this book began with my five-page letter of complaint about my former psychiatrist, which I filed through the College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia, Canada, where my six years of “therapy” had occurred. At the close of that complaint process, and after I sued the doctor for medical malpractice, I used those five pages as the foundation for my book. “What happened” in the therapy (dates of treatment, medications he prescribed and their side effects, other acts of impropriety, etc.) were all fairly straight forward, but bringing meaning to my experiences, understanding how it all had impacted me, took years of writing and re-writing, then more writing and rewriting and soul searching.
For quite a while now, I’ve been interested in death and dying. I’ve noticed that most people pretend that death is something that will really never happen to them, and if you experience the death of a loved one, not that many people feel comfortable talking with you about that experience.
The 12 days of Christmas are upon us, and to spread the holiday cheer I’m giving away 12 copies of my memoir, Between the Shadow and Lo.
Enter to win between now and Dec 27 and you might get a little unexpected gift in your mailbox this merry season.