As far as I can tell what happens when a reader loves a book isn’t actually a wondrous explosion of literary greatness, an inevitable consequence of that book’s inherent value, it’s a complicated combination of all sorts of circumstances: like who the reader is, where they are in their lives, what else they’ve read, what mood they’re in at the exact moment when they pick up the book, whether they’re drunk or sober, what sorts of bullshit they will or won’t put up with (and all novels contain a certain amount of bullshit), whether the author photo looks like their ex-girl/boyfriend, etc. etc.
This week, Maki, Cassandra and her cat run away in slow motion from an explosion while discussing the latest episode of Hannibal, their (lack of) knowledge about the U.S. judicial system, the common traits of psychopaths and George R.R. Martin’s killing pattern. It’s a very, very slow explosion.
Q:What's the biggest piece of advice you would give aspiring authors?
Listen to yourself over all the other voices. There is something about creativity that makes advice just appear out of the woodwork. I know that when I was writing my earlier novels, it seemed that everyone around me was also writing a novel, or had written a novel, or had read a blog about how to write a novel by a blogger who had written a novel. And then a lot of people had advice about getting an agent, or not getting an agent, or carving my query letter onto a block of driftwood so it would stand out in the slush pile.
I tried, against my instincts, to implement that advice. I thought it was what I was supposed to do. I thought it was what all the authors did. I thought my way must surely be wrong. I really worried that something was wrong with me, because here were all these people who sounded so sure, telling me to do the exact opposite of what my gut was telling me to do.
But writing a novel is a very long, very personal endeavor. And somewhere in those nights of staring at my computer screen, with nothing but the sound of my laptop fan, I was forced to be honest with myself. If I was going to spend this much time doing something, I HAD to do it my way, because my writing had stopped looking like my mind and had instead begun to look like a quilt made from the minds of everyone else I talked to.
I still really can’t tell you how I finished my first novel, or how I finished the novels you may have read, or how I will finish the novel I’m working on right now (Internment 3). It’s different every time, and it’s different for every writer. But I CAN tell you it’s something I had to do for myself. It’s something every writer should do alone. And then when you finish that story, it just may take you somewhere great, and people will ask YOU for advice, and what you’ll probably say to them is what I am going to say to you: Don’t ask me for advice. What the hell do I know, really?
We are having more and more guests (listeners) every week and are very pleased about it. While Cassandra grabs a few more tables and chairs (because she is the strongest one!) Maki will show you today’s menu. Please, take whichever seat is available at the moment and make yourself at home.
Body Language Cheat Sheet for Writers
As described by Selnick’s article:
We hope you have developed an appetite since our last episode. This week, we discuss “Kaiseki” (of course) and Cassandra talks about truth, justice and the Michael Bay way. So, please, take your seat and have a look at today’s menu.
Digesting Hannibal is a podcast about NBC’s Hannibal and anything related. It is hosted by Cassandra Rose Clarke and Alexandre Maki.
This is our first episode (and Maki’s first time trying to speak in English) so, please, don’t be rude.