Things I’d Tell My Year Ago Self

I’ve had some really good luck this year in getting stories published. More than a couple of friends have said they want to write more, and asked me what I’d tell myself a year ago when I decided that I was going to start submitting my work.

Shunn Format. Period.

Every rough draft I go through and cross out any “It seemed” or “I felt” and replace it with something that demonstrates the feeling or mood I was describing. I’ve learned that “I felt sad about it” just bores the shit out of people.

Beautiful prose isn’t about big words. Beautiful prose can be a whole bunch of small words strung together. It’s about the voice.

Not to be afraid to be too dark, too vulgar, too clean, too anything.

There’s a whole bunch of quotes about writing but this one sticks with me. “Write you know.”

But you write fantasy and horror and sci-fi, right? Shit that isn’t even real?

You might have noticed a lot of my main characters are female, who were ignored or neglected or abandoned during their formative years. They are usually “too something” for the world they live in. Too outspoken, too angry, too bitter, too smart.

So I am writing what I know. I’ve been told I’m too political, opinionated, outspoken, too loud, my humor is vulgar, my sarcasm is too sharp, that I’m too blunt, too direct, too intimidating.  I mean, the list goes on and on.

It took me thirty years to stop giving a fuck if I was any of those things. Another five where I was ready to write down the things I had to say and not care that my scars, internal, external, might bleed through, that people might see me in my work.

Write what you know. Don’t be scared of judgment. Nobody can tell my stories the way I do, or yours the way you do.

Let’s dream big together.


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