An old friend texted me out of the blue the other day. Basically he told me he wanted to get his life together and figure things out. Well good for him, I thought. I believe he is soon to graduate highschool, or perhaps he may already have graduated, being homeschooled, I'm not sure.
I feel a tad hypocritical giving out advice on life, as I don't have my own life under control or understood yet, but I did my best. My advice to him was to focus on the concrete things, like saving money to buy a car, first and foremost. My reason for this, I told him, was because 'figuring out who you are' is such a nebulous, almost impossible task. I still am not sure who I am, but I feel I am closer every day to that realization.
I asked him why he wanted to change, and what he wanted to change about himself. He quoted be a "shut-in" and having "social issues" as things to change. That struck me as a bit odd.
I will tell you what I told him. Don't worry about being a "good person", as everyone's definition of "good" is different. Instead, focus on being a person YOU like. Be a person you can stand to look at in the mirror every morning. And most importantly, be a person you would like to be friends with. If you don't like you, how on earth can you expect other people to like you?
I guess there is a way I can tie this into writing.
Write What You Love
Whether you are just starting out or have multiple drafts under your belt, there's one piece of advice that can't be said enough.
Write the book you want to read. Don't worry about trends, don't worry about fads, chances are by the time to get it finished and published, the trends will have changed. Vampires will be out of style, and choose your own adventure books will be the way to go. Don't worry about it. Don't fret. And most of all don't feel pressured to write anything that you are not in love with.
If you like your book, readers can sense that, and your writing will be all the better for it. If you don't like your book, or the characters, readers pick up on that even faster. They will be less likely to care about your story and what is happening and if they don't care they won't read it. It's that simple.
I read somewhere (I don't remember where) that you feel something like 10x more emotion for your characters and what is happening than the readers ever will. This is due to the fact that much is lost in the translation from your mind to paper. You will never get it said or shown exactly the way you see it. That's just a fact that all writers have to live with. But you HAVE to care. If you don't care, your readers will care even less.