Friday, February 28, 2020

Eating What Faulkner Ate for Breakfast Doesn't Make You Faulkner

In 1950, William Faulkner was so famous that he was pretty sick and tired of people wanting to come to Oxford, Mississippi, to get a look at him. He was also annoyed with the fan mail he received. "Now I get stacks of letters asking what I eat for breakfast and what about curves and linear discreteness," he wrote to a friend. "Suppose I ought to answer them, but I don't."

Why would anyone care what William Faulkner ate for breakfast? Because he was William Faulkner.

At this very moment, I could read any number of articles online or in magazines that will tell me which eye cream Jennifer Lopez uses or what trick Kerry Washington swears by for her glowing skin or which diet plan Jennifer Aniston follows to stay so slim and trim. And I could buy said eye cream or try said trick or eat said food and guess what? I would still not look like J-Lo, Kerry, or "Rachel."

But hey, the eye cream might be worth a try, right?

Same thing with writers. People always want to know the "tricks" or routines successful writers use. And sometimes they're especially helpful. No kidding--I'm reading a book right now that lays out which page of a manuscript each plot point should fall on, and it's amazing. But if William Faulkner ate squirrel dumplings for breakfast every morning, that doesn't mean that if I do the same, I'll suddenly become the writer that Faulkner was. (Thank goodness because I don't want to eat squirrel dumplings.)

So far, the only successful "trick" I know of for writing comes from a shoe company: JUST DO IT. Work steadily and work hard.

Of course, if you know of anything easier and more foolproof, I'm all ears. Just as long as I don't have to eat a squirrel.

Ginger Rue is the author of the Aleca Zamm series from Aladdin and the Tig Ripley series from Sleeping Bear.

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