Sometimes I bemoan the fact that I don't write "popular fiction", while at other times I'm completely smug about it.
This week, I've been reading the Lou Reed biography Transformer and it got me thinking a few things:
1. If you're a creative genius, you can be an asshole.
2. If you're a creative genius, you don't have to be popular.
3. If you're a creative genius, you make your own rules and don't give a shit what anybody thinks.
4. Popularity and critical acclaim are very different things.
Ergo 5. If you can tell a story, you can get away with being poor writer (Twilight, anyone?)
Despite these 5 points, and even though I wrote my first book (200 hand-written pages) at 12 (and subsequently burnt it - thank you, Poe), followed by a tonne of poems, short stories and three (unpublished) manuscripts, it still feels like I don't know anything about story-telling.
Earlier this year I had one of my manuscripts professionally edited, and one of the comments I received was: Are you familiar with the three-act story structure?
Yes, I've read how-to writing books, but the information goes in and leaves quickly. I just want to tell a fucking story, and sorry that it doesn't suit the ideal of the hero's freaking journey or the blessed three-act-story structure.
Then I went on to read one of Lou Reed's last interviews in NME, where he said:
"Every single one of us there was ... wanting to do something magniﬁcent. We weren’t there to make money or be pretty or get laid. We were trying to create a diamond. We wanted to make heaven on Earth..."Being a kid is lonely. Being an adult can be equally lonely. Writing makes some of us a little less lonely, but it's hard to be immune to the "game" - you know the one, write to publish etc etc. It's a trap that, soon enough, makes me feel that I'm doing it wrong, and suddenly I'm writing to someone else's idea of what makes a story.
When I was a kid, I wrote about what I wished I was. As an adult, not much has changed, except my writing is dirtier and, I think, more honest because, above all else, honesty matters (despite this blog's tag-line). (Oh, and having a spider named after you is kinda rad, too: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loureedia)
I miss Lou Reed. I didn't know him, and I've only discovered his back catalogue in the last few years, but I miss his type of brutal honesty. He lied a lot, too, but he let us into who he is a bit, and that's something neither Stephenie Meyer nor Lady Gaga give me.