Have you ever heard of the Bizarro genre? Well today I’d like to introduce you to one of its finest writers, Jeremy C. Shipp. Jeremy has been published in the likes of Cemetery Dance, ChiZine, and The Bizarro Starter Kit (blue). He has also received great reviews including a memorable glowing recommendation from Piers Anthony. Besides his Bizzaro work–or nestled squarely within it–Jeremy also writes a mean horror story. Now Jeremy is going to tell us about how he writes and what he has learned in his career thus far.
Find Your Author’s Path
by Jeremy C Shipp
As an anarcho-tribalist, I don’t believe there’s one right way to live, and I don’t believe there’s one right way to write. What’s right for one writer isn’t always right for another. Nevertheless, I’ve learned a great deal from other creators over the years. And so I’d like to share a few of my thoughts and ideas about the writing, in the hope that my ramblings might help others.
1. Write from your heart and for your heart.
Years ago, when I was just starting out as a writer, I would often write from my mind and for my (nonexistent) readers. I would struggle to write tales I thought people would enjoy. And because of this, most of my creations were bland and uninspired. But over the years, I learned to write for myself. I learned to break free of my preconceptions of myself as a writer. And I learned that when I write stories I’m passionate about, others are more likely to feel the same way.
2. Discover your strong points.
Growing up, I read a lot of classic literature. H.G. Wells, Alexandre Dumas, Jules Verne. These were my literary heroes, and I thought in order to become a good writer, I needed to emulate them. But the truth is, I was no good at that style of writing. And thankfully, over time, I allowed my writing to evolve. I experimented and I looked at my stories with an honest eye. I asked myself important questions. What am I good at? When is my writing the most effective and engaging? And in the end, I found my own authentic, unique voice.
3. Let your underrepresented characters come alive.
First of all, I think our world needs more characters from underrepresented groups. For instance, characters who are transgender, bisexual, intersex, disabled. But more than that, we need these characters to be presented as whole, complex individuals, instead of as noble or pathetic stereotypes or plot devices. I feel strongly about this, so when creating a character from an underrepresented group, I do my research. I talk to real people.
4. Give yourself permission to fail.
Over the years, I’ve learned to embrace the fact that I’m a professional failure. For instance, I recently constructed a papier mâché statue of Buddy from Charles in Charge out of all my rejection letters. Anyway, I’ve come to value failure as much as success. Experimenting and taking chances with style and voice and genre has spawned many ineffective stories over the years. Stories that are un-publishable. But I still hold these tales close to my heart. Because by playing around and crossing boundaries, I’ve been able to create stories that I’m proud to share with the world.
5. Accept the inherent worthiness of your stories.
This is a lesson I wish I’d learned a long time ago. I used to send out my stories in a quest for validation. I believed that only an external authority could make my story worthy of existence. And when I thought this way, being a writer was extremely difficult. Every rejection was painful. I was consumed by doubt. I was haunted by writer’s block. But some years ago, I stopped looking at the world hierarchically. So now I see my stories as inherently worthy. Now, a rejection letter is only a bump in the road. Now, I write almost every day, because I have nothing to prove. Writing is about sharing my heart and my imagination with others.
Jeremy’s site is available at http://www.jeremycshipp.com
To read some of his books you buy them from Amazon.com or Amazon.ca through http://www.batteredspleenproductions.com/store/jcshippu.htm
Music: Can’t Sleep, Clowns Will Eat Me by Alice Cooper.