fourWell, as those few of you who have been with me since the beginning know, the blog’s anniversary is coming up soon (honestly… I don’t remember exactly when it is, but I know it’s sometime in the next few weeks…). When The Art of Writing started it was just me writing seven posts a week… which is a lot, believe me. If you look back through the archives you can probably find some of those original posts. I have to admit that I think there were some good ones in there, but some of them were written in desperation while sleep-deprived and it shows. We’ve been going for four years now, and a lot has changed. For one thing, I’m not the only author on here any more. Some amazing writers have come on board and helped make the blog a success. Some of them, like Selanya, have stuck around for quite a while, and others moved on pretty quickly, but all of them have been a blessing to me, and I hope to you.

The subject matter of the blog has also changed. In the beginning it was just me and my opinions about what good speculative fiction should look like, but as we’ve grown in followers and in writers new voices have emerged. Some of them have been yours as readers and comment-providers, and others have been ours as writers. This has led to some open discussions and disagreements, and I love that! One of my favorite things about how The Art of Writing has grown is that there are people who have different perspectives, different priorities, and different opinions, and many of them can converse well. This leads to a good variety of advice being produced on the blog, and some good discussion about what good writing is, what writers face, and how we best develop our craft.

I love this because I do not think that we can point to any one thing and say ‘that’s what good writing looks like, everyone should write like that’. Now, certainly there are some things that we can all agree are bad writing **cough**starwarsepisodeonethemovie**cough**, but good writing takes many different forms. John Grisham, Glen Cook, Frank Herbert, Michael Crichton and Terry Pratchett are/were all amazing authors and they all write very differently. I think that this blog reflects some of that spirit.

Agora_portfolio_2I also think that some of the best advice any writer, but especially any new writer, could get is this: ignore the critics (professional or otherwise) who tell you that you’re no good and you need to give up. Keep writing, and write what you want to write, but never think that you’ve arrived. Always strive to be a better writer, and always listen to those friends who are willing to tell you what they like and what they don’t like, but always take it with a grain of salt. My rule, when I’m getting something edited, is that if one reader comments on it, then I’ll look at it, but probably stick with my opinion. If a few readers comment on the same thing in different ways, then there’s an issue that needs to be dealt with, and I need to look at it carefully and figure out what it is. If multiple readers comment on the same thing in the same way, then chances are that I made a clear error and I need to listen to them and do what they say. I’ll admit that it’s not always an easy attitude to take because, as any of my friends can tell you, I can be an arrogant jerk and I don’t like admitting when I’m wrong. Still, I think that it’s important. Thoughts?

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