Laird Barron

Let’s call a spade a spade – getting your writing published is hard. Being a successful writer is even harder (trust me, I know!). And, ok, let’s say, you do carve out a career for yourself… how do you make that all elusive step to the next plateau? – the plateau where all the full-time writers of the world are sitting in their mansions, their fans salivating in anticipation over each new release as they throw cash at pigeons on their forecourts instead of breadcrumbs…yes, well, you get the idea. I’ve decided to run a series of interviews with well-established writers to offer guidance to young budding creative types. I’m hoping they’ll share their own insecurities and offer an insight into how they got to where they are today.


The question posed to each author is – “A young author comes to you seeking advice. They’re riddled with insecurities and completely overwhelmed by the publishing industry. What are your Words from the Wise?”

Laird – To new writers, and especially to young writers: expect resistance. I am in my forties. I’ve written since I was five. I know one thing if I know anything.

They will try to stop you.

Resistance to artistic aspiration is typical. In general, people aren’t going to leap onboard your dream train. It’s cute for a teenager to talk of becoming a novelist, or a poet. The gloss is tarnished once you travel beyond the solar system of middling youth and into young adulthood. If it has not already begun, it will begin. If it has begun, it will now begin in earnest. People will gently, or not so gently, undermine your artistic endeavors. How will you pay off your loans? How will you pay off a mortgage? How will you afford a family? What will become of you?

Grow up. Get real. It’s for your own good. We love you. Stop, just stop.laird pic

They will attempt to subvert you. They will attempt to cajole and coerce you. They will roll their eyes and shake their heads and talk about you in hushed tones of mourning. When you pursue the dream of being an author, people always mourn you. They will bargain with you. They will read your words and pronounce you No Hemingway, no Jackson, no McCarthy. They will probably be correct in this latter judgment. It doesn’t matter. Hemingway was no Faulkner, Jackson was no Shelley, McCarthy is no Steinbeck. None of them were Shakespeare. Be sure they were told this or something like this and by someone who loved them, wanted the best for them.

Print is dead. Publishing is dead. No one reads. We love you. So stop.

They’ll do anything to blunt your progress, to deflect your trajectory. They’ll offer you a raise at the sausage plant. They’ll marry you, knock you up, or get knocked up. They’ll send you down the trail behind a team of huskies. They’ll jail you. Drug you. Withhold love. Punish you. Blast your mind with a 24 hour news cycle and infinite cartoons on the Cartoon Network. They will guilt you for the hours you spend apart, writing, dreaming. The most insidious of them will publish you, review you, praise or condemn you, encourage you to rest on your laurels or to simply quit, the world is better off without you, because you’ve made it, or because you never will. And so they say, Stop. Quit. We love you. Come back to us, don’t leave us here.

They will do anything to stop you. Remember. They love you. You have to be ready for that.