"The Influence of Captain Janeway" by Kate Mulgrew (Foreward to Homer Simpson Marches on Washington: Dissent through American Popular Culture, 2010)
I’m just watching the last season of Voyager now. I love Janeway!
1. Only you can write this.
2. You were born to write this.
3. People need you to write this.
4. The world is waiting for you to finish this.
5. One day, someone will tell you how much they needed to read this.
6. You can write anything you set your mind to.
7. This has a glimmer of brilliance in it.
8. The crappy words will fall away in revision.
9. Your vision of the world matters.
10. You see what no one else does.
You don’t need to believe that this is going to be a bestseller. You don’t need to believe that you’re going to be a household name. You don’t need to believe that someday people will study your book in college. But you do have to work to counteract the relentless voice of defeat in your head that says:
1. No one will ever read this.
2. I am banging my head against the wall here.
3. Who am I to think I could be a writer?
4. My father/mother/partner is right. I should give up.
5. I don’t know how to do this. I never learned. No one ever taught me.
6. My voice doesn’t matter.
7. My experience is too different from anyone else’s to connect with readers.
8. I don’t know what happens next.
9. I feel too exposed. I want to hide and protect myself more.
10. I can’t expect anyone to pay me for this when they can get so many other things for free.
True and depressing and heart-breaking.
We worry for our girls. We — parents, teachers, journalists, big brothers, doctors, celebrities, religious leaders, bloggers — see danger for them everywhere. Estrogen in milk, anorexic models in fashion magazines, math-hating Barbies, sexy Barbies, sexy Halloween costumes, sexy everything, sex education or the lack thereof, online bullies, online predators, eating disorders, mood disorders, rapists, rape culture — it’s a dangerous world out there for the vulnerable, for the naive and the easily corrupted. It makes sense to worry for them. But worrying about them is also another way of saying — and saying to them — that we think they’re weak. Vulnerability offers an excellent excuse for dismissal, something women have understood for centuries, something modern teenage girls know all too well. How often we disdain their narratives, relegating stories for and about teenage girls to categories meant to defy serious consideration: See the easy and vicious dismissals of the Twilight phenomenon (as opposed to the consideration offered to serious bildungsroman about boys — and the respect accorded to the men who write them); see the shaming of adults who dare to read fiction written for teengers; see the kerfuffle over whether that young adult fiction is too much for its frail, easily influenced girl readers to handle; see the eruption of venom when a woman young enough to be thought of as a girl creates a show called Girls and the gatekeepers of high culture have the temerity to take it seriously.
We could do better; we have done much worse."
1. Lack of pacing, especially trying to tell too many scenes too quickly.
2. Starting with something really big that has no context and means nothing.
3. A lack of relationships that matter.
4. World building jargon that takes long minutes to parse through.
5. An evil villain who is Snidely Whiplash.
6. Telling too much backstory all at once. (My rule is one paragraph at a time.)
7. Good, meaty dialog that shows conflict between characters (rather than backstory).
8. A sense of layers. This can be a sense of humor or a great voice or foreshadowing.
9.Telling part of the story that feels like filler because someone else told them they had to.
10. Not knowing where to start and so starting in about five different places, one after the other. There is only one beginning.
I started writing fanfiction the way most girls did, by re-inventing themselves.
Mary Sues exist because children who are told they’re nothing want to be everything."