I like this post from SF Signal.
And as a bonus, I’m going to answer the questions the post presents, though no one thought to ask me:
What was the best writing advice you received as a teenager/young adult, and who gave it to you?
I never received any writing advice as a teenager. But, I never asked anyone. I didn’t write much as a teenager, although the urge to do something creative with language nagged me: at times I wanted to write and draw comic books, or become a published role-playing game designer (my first writing submission was a rpg module sent to Dragon magazine), or write fantasy novels like Robert E. Howard or Michael Moorcock. Much of that activity was discouraged. I did, however, read. And as almost all the answers in this post note, every writer was a voracious reader. Reading begets writing.
The first real writing advice I ever received came from Rita Mae Brown’s Starting From Scratch. To Miss Brown, reading was paramount. So was writing in active voice. Her book also suggested journalism as an avocation to prepare for the vocation of being a literary artist. I went with that, and have found that journalism may just be a vocation and literary writing the avocation. Or maybe it’s all just a dream.
If you knew then what you know now about the writing life, would you have continued to pursue it?
I think I would have pursued writing in some way, although I certainly would have made some changes in my education and career pursuits. In particular, if I had a better vision of what I wanted to write or of my desire to write before I entered university, I probably would have gone to J-school. I also would have paid more attention to the emerging technology, and not been such a damn Luddite, perhaps learning photography, videography, and would have become much more familiar with the InterWebs in its infancy than I was.
How much of a disconnect is there between your vision of the writing life and the reality of it?
Up until about 10 years ago, my vision and reality were seriously disconnected. I had visions of myself whacking away at a manual typewriter while living on the Left Bank of Paris with tons of expats, like Hemingway. I drew my whole image of what a writer’s life was like from Hemingway. I wasn’t really paying attention to what was going on around me. I certainly had a hard time connecting that image to a career path as a writer. I wasn’t aware of the changes in publishing. Or how difficult it is to publish a book. Or how technology has changed writers. That and it’s clear writers aren’t pop stars. I’m not even sure writers register as even blips in the galaxy.