Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Take What You Want

Photo credit: jacobms (flickr)
Ever been to a salad bar?  You know the kind with 3 kinds of lettuce, spinach, every veggie on the planet, chunks of ham, 10 dressings, pasta salad, and even lima beans  There's a lot of delicious options.  You could make a salad of just about anything you want.  Maybe you're the type to try a smattering of several things, or perhaps you prefer to build a large salad with a carefully chosen mix of toppings and your favorite dressing.

But how often do you pile some of everything - every salad dressing, pasta salad, croutons, cheese - on your plate and dig in?  It would be a bit of  a mess and certainly not very good.  All the ingredients are delicious and some even mix well, but altogether?  Not so much.

The internet works the same way.  It seems like everyone out there has an opinion on the right way to write, the right way to query, and the best books being published.  Lately I've found myself sort of frustrated with agent/writer blogs.  There's a lot of absolutism in the advice as though you must utilize the advice or you will never, not ever be published or agented.  Don't get me wrong it's not all bad advice, but honestly, there is no formula to successful writing.  There are tools and methods you can use, but at the end of the day if you try to meet all the well-intentioned demands of all the blogs and websites, you'll wind up with a bit of a mess.

Maybe you read a post on super writer's blog and it really speaks to you, but I read it and think its bad advice or something that doesn't work with my writing style.  That's cool.  You might like spinach in your salad, and I prefer green peppers.  Variety in our writing and our styles is what sets us apart and, more importantly, what sets books apart.  Choose what resonates with you and leave the rest.  That's what the salad bar is for.


  1. What a wonderful post thank you. I've been lefy feeling so intimidated with all the instructions I've been immobilised.

  2. Great post! You're right - everyone seems to have so much to say, but it's more about getting my listening filter on straight. Thanks! :)

  3. You are so spot on. My head threatens to explode at times when I've read a bevy of opinions that all are supposed to be THE WAY to do something. I think it's important to match advice to your personal style and go for it.

  4. I think this is great advice, and it's so hard to take to heart sometimes! We hear the recommendations and suggestions from the people who come before us, and for some reason, we think what they say is set in stone, and must be lifted to lead us into the land of milk, honey and writing epiphanies. Some suggestions work for some people but not for others, but I think you got it right, Gennifer - that's what's great about having a variety. Think of how boring life would be if we all wrote like Herman Melville... : /