It’s July 4th, 2010 as I write this. Soon, fireworks will light up the night sky, alerting aliens of our presence as we celebrate the United States of America’s Independence from the evil British Empire and their wicked ruler, King Jonathan Rhys Meyers, who often cut off his wives’ heads, and threatened to do the same to George Washington, Betsy Ross, and Ben Franklin. So, Columbus gave Washington and company the Nina, Piñata and Santa Barbara, the very boats he used to discover this great land, despite what that liar Leif Ericson keeps saying on Twitter. The Indians welcomed us with open arms, and we were so thankful we’d discovered them, kind of like how American Idol discovered Kelly Clarkson.
Since it’s a holiday, I’ve decided not to do any research today, so the above paragraph may be slightly inaccurate. Still, I am positive that it’s Independence day. In that spirit, I’ve decided to offer my declaration as a writer. We all need to know what sort of writer we’re going to be, have our own set of rules, if you will. My Writer’s Declaration is as follows.
1) I will write stories people want to read. Meaning, I won’t write boring crap. I do not want to force my friends and family to read my stories unless I’m sure they’re interesting, fun and entertaining. I will always entertain. I will write stories that are funny or scary or gripping. I will write stories that have a purpose. I will write stories that will make people glad that they read them. I’m a writer, and my main goal is to create tales that aren’t painful to finish. I will leave the reader wanting more.
2) I will not sell-out, much. Sometimes, getting published or produced requires compromising your beliefs. We all have to set our own level of “sell-out.” Will I change an aspect of a story if an editor feels it’ll help the story’s chances of selling? Sure. Will I sell my soul to the Devil in order to be successful? I hope not. If you’re a writer and you want to be successful, at some point, someone is going to ask you to change a story that you simply do not want to change. “Listen,“ an editor or agent might say, “if you let this character live, I guarantee that you’ll sell this story.” Will this decision ruin your story? Possibly. I will never sacrifice the integrity of my work to make a buck, unless it’s a lot of bucks. Do you have a price? There’s a wonderful movie starring David Duchovny called The TV Set which follows an idealistic writer who sells a television pilot, but watches in horror as his work is turned into something quite different from what he originally wrote. Don’t be that guy. Unless you get a Porsche out of it.
3) I will write for the joy of it. Writing makes me happy, and if the day every comes when writing suddenly stops making me happy, I’ll find something else to do. I hope that day never comes, since writing is my life, but if it does, maybe I’ll start painting or taking pictures. I will write until the joy fades, then I’ll stop. I doubt my love of writing will ever truly disappear, but you never know. I hope it’s fun forever, and I think it will be.
4) I will always be original. I will never steal someone’s idea and claim it as my own. This is basic, simple stuff, but something I think about every day. If I’m writing stories, I don’t ever want there to be a doubt that the work is mine, all mine. Sure, I may use vampires or zombies or teenage wizards or female ass-kickers, but they will be my characters, with traits I’ve given them, and a unique history. I don’t want anyone to ever read my work and think, “Hhmm, that’s sort of like that story Stephen King wrote.” I am Ervin Anderson, and my work should always read like the work of Ervin Anderson.
5) I will work tirelessly until I achieve my goals. I will slack little and write often. Success doesn’t come easily. A writer must work hard. The goals I’ve set for myself will never be realized unless I’m writing every day. I know what I need to do, and that’s what I’ll do. Writing is fun for me, but it’s also work, and I treat it as such. I set goals, deadlines, constantly challenge myself, and that’s the only way I know how to write.
Do you have your own Writer’s Declaration? If you don’t, I suggest creating one, and every so often looking it over, so you’ll always stay true to yourself. Be the writer you want to be, always.