Read your work out loud. Don’t give me that look. Read your work aloud. Don’t argue. Don’t fight. It will help. I promise. I promise. I guarantee it. If you find it didn’t help you, lemme know. I will let you Taser me in the face. And by “me,” I mean, some other guy who will be my stand-in. Probably some real estate agent or tollbooth attendant.
Well, too often us writers have in our head some “perfect sphere” like, “My character is a lawyer.” But then we need this character to say something lawyerly, and suddenly we have to ask ourselves, what kind of lawyer? A trial lawyer? Does she do conveyancing? Bankruptcy? Intellectual property? Taxes? Human rights? There are about 3,000 kinds of lawyers. (Fun fact: there are also 3,000 varieties of pears. That’s right. Even PEARS are more complicated than you thought!) And even though the kind of lawyer may not be essential to the plot, if we simply blow past this moment without a decision and a little bit of research, the world of our novel will start to feel flat, less interesting than the real world.
Try to be original in your play and as clever as possible; but don’t be afraid to show yourself foolish; we must have freedom of thinking, and only he is an emancipated thinker who is not afraid to write foolish things.
I think I’m a political person; I’m a person who’s interested in politics. I’m interested in the way the world works; I’m interested in understanding it. I actually think of myself as a political student. “Political writer” always makes me sort of stop and think because, OK, what does that mean? And I think it makes me a little worried. Because it just seems to me, when you’re not a white male writing about white male things then somehow your work has to Mean something. So people have said to me, “I read your first novel, it’s really a political allegory about Nigeria, isn’t it?” And I said, “No, it’s about a messed up family.”
Writers have big egos. That’s the only way you continue in the face of all those rejection slips. You’ve got a thick skin and you don’t bleed maybe as much because of it. When somebody sends back a story and says, “I’m sending this back because the characterization seems wrong to me and it seems like you’ve gone off the rails at Points A and B,” you file the rejection slip….
You read the rejections, the personal letters that explain why they didn’t take the story, although they might say something good about it and part of you inside says, “Well, they were wrong.” Also, if you read a lot of stuff and you know in your heart that you write better than some of the crap that comes out you say, “Well, if I’m doing better than this and this is published, then it’s just a question of continuing to flog the things around until they find a home.