Writing on this blog and working my way through The Artist’s Way have been helping me figure what it means to be a writer. I used to believe only novelists counted as writers. People who wrote poems were poets, people who wrote for newspapers were journalists, and people who wrote online were bloggers (and hacks). The esteemed title of “writer” could only apply to those who dealt in that fearsome world of Real Literature, aka Books with Long Ass Stories aka Novels.
Except that the novel was originally considered dumb and low-class anyway. And I barely read novels anymore, making them feel less relevant. Also, if I didn’t write–in my journal, here, or in my writing notebook– I would feel lost. I wouldn’t be able to process my life– writing things down is part of my identity. Besides, isn’t writing just putting words on stuff? And I put a lot of words! And this one time I was even paid to do it! So damnit, I’m a writer!
One of the writing forms I used to poo-poo especially was that of the advice column. When I was struggling with my writing identity in college, a friend recommended I read “Dear Sugar” at The Rumpus— which I recommend you do also– and I thought it was heavy-handed, flowery, and superfluous. The advice column is not an art form, I maintained. Advice is what you dish out over a second bottle of wine, and only when your friend asks for it. It’s sloppy, honest, personal, loaded, off-the-cuff– and oh wait. That sounds like fun!
I guess every advice column ever will be compared to Dear Sugar’s. In case you live somewhere very far away from the writing world (bless you) its author was the real-life main character of the movie Wild (read the book of the same name. Way better, way inspiring.) But instead of comparing mine to hers, I’m going to focus on giving my own advice, in my own way, and I hope to never mention Sugar again except as unrelated to this.
THAT ALL BEING SAID!
I’m starting an advice column.
I get asked for advice sort of a lot in real life (hahahahahahahahahaha no) (well kind of) (more like lots of people tell me their problems and then I give unsolicited advice). And I’m going to transfer some of these questions to written format and answer them here.
Or you can also send me your own: mwant1390 at gmail dot com.
Pretty please? Let’s do this together.