Andrew Worthington runs one of my favorite lit mags, Keep This Bag Away From Children and he’s got various fictions around the internets. I really enjoyed this write-up about the bands that he was involved in. Anyway, I think he lives (updated) in Calgary and he’s got a book coming out from Civil Coping Mechanisms this July).
Here’s his writing advice:
@joshspilker write what you know, to discover what you don’t know. follow your heart until it fucks your brain.
— andrew worthington (@anduwortho) March 10, 2014
Agree or Disagree?
1st Part: Agree. You know, I’ve never thought about the concept of “writing what you know to discover what you don’t know” though I feel this comment was mentioned to me recently in response to this advice from Stephen Michael McDowell.
The more I think about it, it makes sense to go into the areas that you’re intimately familiar with, then to reveal through some type of machination or turn areas that you’re not as sure about it, then you dive into those via research, more life experience, conversations, etc.
This seems really good and encouraging and an impetus for plunging forward, I think, sort of like how Breaking Bad’s Walter White knew about chemistry, but not really about meth distribution until he figured that out, too.
(((WAIT, WHAT ???)))
Okay, really, let’s rein it in. I’ve gotten frustrated by stories and books that were “semi-autobiographical” because I thought it was lazy writing, like they didn’t push it enough, push their own instincts enough into something beyond what they initially thought they could do. I think that’s what Andrew is alluding, too.
(((GOOD< THAT SOUNDED BETTER THAN WHATEVER ELSE YOU WERE DOING))).
2nd Part: Not so much. I’m not much into the 4-letter words of that kind, but beyond that, following your heart can lead into some dangerous places which I guess is what Andrew means, but then it can mess up your perceptions of the world maybe to the detriment of others, like if you love hot dogs so much only to open up a hot dog stand to the detriment of your family and then what? Or if you’re like John Updike in this article, where he basically admitted that his writing took precedence over his wife or his kids or anyone else, and he’s beloved by everyone he doesn’t know and loathed by everyone he does know. I don’t know if this is what Andrew is trying to get at, I’m guessing not, but this is what it made me think of.
Guess what I’m saying is “following your heart” sounds really nice on paper or on this screen or on a shirt you bought on Etsy, but then like you might be stuck with that shirt and literally just your heart as a muscle but not much else.
Maybe this is his “bad advice” section, because following your heart might mess up your brain, I guess with that I’d agree with it.
Full disclosure: Keep This Bag Away Children published a story by me once.