Lenore Myka has always loved rules.
But today, she is going to talk about breaking them.
“I was always such a good student,” Myka said. “(But) the artistic process doesn’t work that way, (despite) textbooks and workshops and a variety of tools, … there is a degree of mystery still.”
Myka, the Week Nine prose writer-in-residence at the Chautauqua Writers’ Center, will talk about this element of mystique in the writing process in her Brown Bag titled “The Best Pieces of Writing Advice You Might Want to Ignore” at 12:15 p.m. Friday, Aug. 24, on the front porch of the Literary Arts Center at Alumni Hall.
Myka is the author of King of the Gypsies: Stories, a finalist for the 2016 Chautauqua Prize. She has been recognized by the likes of the National Endowment for the Arts and The Best American Short Stories.
The snappy title of her Brown Bag, which Myka said lives up to “the Buzzfeed standard,” reflects the informal, conversational and somewhat autobiographical nature of her talk.
“In part,” she said, “I’ll be telling people about my own experience with work on a novel, and how I really took to heart a lot of the advice or ‘rules’ that have become tropes — and even cliches — in the writing world.”
This includes advice such as having a daily writing routine or “writing what you know,” she said.
Like the revision process, Myka said these rules are “a little-acknowledged topic.” The general trend, according to Myka, is that some of these tropes are understood as rules rather than advice, and that even the most well-intentioned adages can be “used against us.”
“I’m not rejecting those rules,” she said. “(But) we should hold all of this advice with a grain of salt. … Any creative pursuit is an intuitive one, and that means also how you interact on a day-to-day basis should be somewhat intuitive with the creative process.”
Earlier in her career, Myka followed these rules when writing a novel. Ultimately, it just didn’t work out.
“It was the end of a love affair, in a way,” she said. “I broke up with that book in the end.”
Even though books are not living and breathing organisms, they can often seem like it to an enamored and invested writer, Myka said.
And so, her solution to this “dysfunctional relationship” was to cut ties with the project, scratch the rules and start afresh. A new collection of short stories was born.
“All is well,” she said. “I found a new romance.”