GP: On being yourself as a writer by Andrew Kopecky

This week’s guest poster is my friend and author Andrew Kopecky, who discusses the topic of being yourself as a writer.  Enjoy!

Guest post: On being yourself as a writer by author Andrew Kopecky

On being yourself as a writer and being the best you can be

During my childhood, I dreamed of becoming a writer.

From my childhood on I lived life, with many experiences, with some writing here and there. I published very little. Still, I dreamed of being a writer of fiction.

Here we are in 2018. I’m 53 years old, have a family, a full-time job and all of the wonderful responsibility that comes with being a parent and a husband (I say that sincerely).

And guess what? Alas, I didn’t become a professional writer. Still, I’m happy to be where I am now. I didn’t realize my dream as I once dreamed it. But I have no regrets. As I said, I have a family and a job; I love more than anything being a dad.

When I can, I write fiction. A little bit here, a little bit there. Several years ago I published some short stories on Amazon, and I recently updated them. I have two more short stories, from that series, and other short stories, that I am slowly working to publish as well. More recently I finished a novel I have been working on for the past year (and which I initially wrote a long time ago).

Along the way, I’ve gained a bit of wisdom. Wisdom that comes from age and experience.

Allow me to share some.

Have you read William Faulkner’s Absalom! Absalom! or Jean Anouilh’s play Antigone? Two wonderful pieces of literature. When I think of these works, and of others that I have read, a few things come to mind that I’d like to share with you, my fellow writers.

One, that if you’re going to be the best writer you can be (and that is what you should be striving for), you need to be a reader as well. Reading will help your writing, I guarantee it.

And two, I’ve noticed that each of the writers I just mentioned wrote in their own style. Like music, like painting, like theatre, fiction writing is highly stylistic. Just think of Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Led Zeppelin, Mahler, Andy Warhol. Very distinct styles of art.

Which leads me to the next piece of wisdom I’d like to share. In order to find your own unique style, you have to be yourself when you write. All of the time. The best writing you will ever do will always come from deep inside you.

When you have written a story and have re-worked it and edited it and proofed it and made it just the way you want it to be, you then need to dig deeper into yourself and see if your story isn’t missing something. And one day you will say to yourself, “Where did these beautiful words come from?” It’s like magic.

Which takes me to another piece of wisdom—don’t be like other writers. Be like yourself. I can’t stress this enough.  Genres are categories, and there is nothing wrong with breaching them and doing your own thing.

If you’re going to make your story the best one you can, there are two things you shouldn’t do. One, you shouldn’t rush it. Good writing comes from quality time spent at it. And two, you’ll need to write your story and then re-work it and re-work it. Again. A lot.

Each time you go back to your manuscript, you’ll be making improvements.  And keep in mind that every single word matters. Right word, right place, the right small touch to your story. Writing is a craft, it’s an art. Every little piece counts.

Ah, I have more advice. If you can, find yourself a reader (at least one) who isn’t a writer. Other writers are biased readers. That bias can do you some good, sure, but your “average” reader is your true audience. Find a reader from that pool of people. Your average reader will be able to give you some good feedback on your story.

Finally, relax when you write. Enjoy it. Take your time. I have joined a number of writers groups on Facebook. Some of them I have left because they ended up not being my thing. But what I have noticed over and over is that some indie writers are really caught up in marketing. (I get it, I really do—they have to be.) And really caught up in not having to wait too long for success. And really caught up in conforming to certain norms. (“What is the best way to…?”) And really caught up in trying to make a living doing this. And less caught up in the art of writing.

I have seen plenty of frustration out there. What do I think?  It doesn’t have to be this way. If your book is good—if you think it’s good and others have told you it’s good, then above all, take it for what it is—a work of art. Only a few out of many artists throughout history have been lucky enough to make a good living from their art.

There is nothing wrong with trying to be one of those few. But, it may take you time to get there. You may get there, you may not. In the end, you will need to find satisfaction not only in being able to sell your books but also in being the artist you want to be.

That, my friends, especially this last sentence I just wrote, is what I have learned in my 53 years. As a writer, I want to be completely free.

Oh, and now you might ask, why did I mention those famous writers earlier? And music, and painting, etc? It was because I want to stress to you that each of those writers, and many musicians and painters and artists you know and have heard of, had one thing in common—they did their own thing and ended up with their unique styles. Your style may or may not sell—it’s a roll of the dice. But first and foremost, you have to be yourself, and show us the very best you have as a writer! Relax, enjoy the experience, and do your own thing.

Author Andrew KopeckyAbout Andrew Kopecky

Actually, autobio. My name is Andrew Kopecky, I live in Rockford, Illinois, to the northwest of Chicago. I have a wonderful family and a house and a job (family, house—you understand). I consider myself a very normal middle-aged guy.

I have messed around with writing fiction all my life but only in the past few years have I actually completed stories and, more recently, a novel.

You can check out two of my short stories (the theme is World War One) on Amazon. I have two more like these that I just need to clean up and put on Amazon.

The novel I just finished is one I actually completed in 1997 and then did a complete makeover of during this past year. I have a master’s degree in linguistics and TESL and a bachelor’s degree in literature. As you can imagine, I like good writing, and I don’t like bad writing.

I am especially interested in the style which a writer uses in a story; I think writing style, like music style, should be a writer’s own. It takes time to develop this. It has taken me time, but I think I have found my own.

The novel I recently finished will soon be on Amazon, after I can get my favorite reader, my daughter (14 years old), to read through it for mistakes, clarity, and anything that might suck that I didn’t realize sucked. Send me an e-mail at akopecky1119(@)gmail(.)com (remove the brackets) and I’ll be happy to send you the first chapter of my novel, As Far from God.

Connect with Andrew

Facebook Author Page

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Big thanks to Andrew for his article.  If you have any questions for Andrew, please leave them in the comments below.  Do check out his links.

I’ll be back on Friday around 18:30 (BST).

Happy writing

Ari

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11 thoughts on “GP: On being yourself as a writer by Andrew Kopecky

  1. Well written, Andrew! Good for you with treasuring your family. They are priceless! 😊

    I have reached a point where if I’m going to keep writing, I’m not going to fuss much with marketing. That is what has drained nearly all the joy out of writing for me and I want it to be joyful about it again. Hard, hard work at times certainly. Disappointing at times is a given. But I do remember when much of writing a story was about the story – not about how I was going to push, push, push it.

    I have work to do to get my three existing cozy mystery novels rebranded and available on Amazon, but after that, I plan to focus on my next story and try not to think of it as “my next book.” Books, to me, have become what one markets. Stories are living things, whether they end up on the bookstore or library selves or not.

    • Thank you, Pearl!! Yes, my family are priceless. They actually do not care too much for my writing, but that’s not a problem for me. My writing and my family are not connected in any way.

      I too have reached the same point about the marketing. I am not good at it, I don’t want to be good at it, I don’t even want to do it, and if I could find someone to do it for me, for a reasonable price, I’d find a way to pay them. In my full-time job I have gotten pulled into doing some marketing and I just dislike it in a strong way (but I don’t have much of a choice at this time). I too remember when much of writing a story was about the story–and I intend to keep it that way for myself. But that’s MY preference–I don’t knock other writers for trying to do the marketing, in fact I admire them for trying. It’s just that I recommend people don’t lose sight of what writing is, an art form.

      It is indeed a lot of work. I finished a novel recently, one I wrote many, many years ago, and then re-wrote last year. I have asked my daughter to read it through, checking for errors and giving me her opinion. I know she won’t say anything to me just to make me feel good, she is definitely not that way with me, she’s quite a straight shooter! (14years old!) I am proud of the story, I put a lot of heart and hard work into it, and the only changes I will make will be corrections. I sent it to two “regular” publishers, haven’t heard back, and have decided to publish it myself–probably the best thing anyway because I am sure a publisher will want to make changes to it. I too have seen that books have been what one markets. I can’t go down that path, I refuse to. I am such a non-conformist–you can ask, Ari, she has heard me say this before. I’d rather write what I want to write, do the very, very best I can with it, as a work of art, and then let it become what it will. I am sorry, Pearl, to you and to everybody out there reading this, but I will tell you the truth, I am not a big believer in marketing. And I think that is what prevents me from putting more time into marketing my stories. I have been around the block a few times and perhaps those trips have not led me back to the same world where everybody else resides. Anyway, thanks Pearl, I so appreciate your kind words!!

  2. This is great advice- thank you for sharing, Andrew and Ari! It’s so easy to get caught up in the “but this is how everyone says I have to do it!” I like Andrew’s stress on remembering that we are INDIVIDUALS, with our own style, goals, and time commitments 🙂

    • Thanks for stopping by Anne. Yes I think Andrew made a great point to remind us that we are all different in how we can and should do things 🙂

    • Thank you, Anne Clare! I really can’t stress enough to other writers how there isn’t one single way to do anything when it comes to writing. I see posts on Facebook, in writers groups, where writers ask questions that to me don’t have one answer. I think many people get into the way of thinking that something has to be done a certain way (writing, publishing, marketing, etc) and they are reluctant to step outside of the box. On other other hand, I have never been one to do something just because others are doing it, or because I have been told it is the right way to do it. In fact, I generally will go out of my way to do things differently–maybe it’s some kind of flaw in my personality 🙂 And I think that all writers, once they can escape the constraints of “doing things the way they should be done” and the constraints of “asking others how to do this or that,” and find the confidence they need in order to do things the way they see best, they will be happier as writers, because they will be free. That feeling of freedom is priceless. I do most things by intuition. And that is why I have become such an incurable non-conformist (see my reply to Pearl)–it’s always been in my nature to question, intuitively, what everybody else is doing, and to try to find another way to do it :). Thanks again for your kind comment, Anne Clare!

      • It’s interesting how many of the books I’ve absolutely loved break the hard and fast ‘rules’ that many sites insist on!
        I like to see what other authors are doing, and what works for them, but I agree, if we get too wrapped up in “Ack! I’m not writing 5,000 words a day like that other writer! I’m a faaaailure!” we aren’t going to go anywhere 🙂

    • I agree with you, Anne Clare. The books I have read and really liked have clearly been written by writers who were doing their “own thing.” One of my favorite examples of this is Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom! which is quite challenging to read but is very, very refreshing as a piece of literary art. I’d like to suggest to all writers who are taking a shot at writing their first, second, or third novels, or short stories, to let themselves be free, and not worry about what they think they “should” be doing. I am just all for people being themselves when they write and doing some experimentation. They will always then get the best out of themselves. (This is probably in the wrong place in the thread but I don’t know how to get it in the right place.)

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