Congratulations to Anders Benson, our featured client! (Click to watch his scary video now!) Anders Benson will tell you that our Review Board didn’t wave him through right away. We were intrigued by the words on the page, but we felt his work wasn’t quite polished yet. When he submitted his stories a second time, it was obvious how much he’d improved, and we were excited to invite him to join our service. We’ve enjoyed his offbeat humor, vivid imagery, and spooky sensibilities ever since. We have to say that, despite the dark, gritty nature of some of his pieces, he’s a delightful client and well-loved by his submission strategy team. Watch his Halloween-inspired video to find out how he follows his muse and how Writer’s Relief has helped him beat the odds.
When Anders Benson joined Writer’s Relief for the submission assistance, we included a fan club:
My first submission to the Review Board was rejected, which turned out to be a good thing because it forced me to confront the weak points in my writing instead of playing to my strengths. And after a few months of honing my craft, I came back with some much better work, and they accepted me. Less than a year later, my first story was published and, of the three I’ve submitted since that time, two more have been accepted for publication. Having Writer’s Relief on my side feels a bit like I’m cheating. I can only imagine how frustrating it would be for somebody to try to do all of this without help. Whether they know it or not, Writer’s Relief offers more than the services that they advertise because, yes, they take the drudgery and the frustration out of getting published, but they aren’t just going through the motions. They honestly love the stories they read—the stories their clients submit through them—and they strive for us to succeed. That enthusiasm shines back on us, it gives us encouragement, it gives us momentum, it challenges us to develop our voices. From the very beginning, they’ve done much more than what I’m paying them for; it feels like I have a fan club already. If you’re dedicated to having your work published, Writer’s Relief is worth every penny.
Anders Benson’s point of view:
The most common advice given to novice writers—and the most frustrating, for its ubiquity—is “write what you know.” It is valuable insight, for when fiction ventures beyond the author’s knowledge and experience, it smacks hollow and loses the reader’s interest. This, I believe, is why those four infuriating words are so often repeated, and, though I personally have begun to understand their deeper meaning, they are not the advice I am going to impart upon those seeking the benefit of my limited wisdom.
That which sets you apart from your peers is not just the story that you tell but how you tell it. It is not enough to have a firm grasp of language because nobody wants to be bludgeoned to death by your vocabulary. Neither is it enough to have a vivid imagination because, to put it bluntly, if that were the case, then any old daydreamer could write great literature. The deciding factor is where the two meet in the skilled use of language to express a fascinating and original tale. In our hands, words are more than just a means of communication; they are emotions, sensations, objects of desire and menace, each in its own right both paintbrush and pigment. I often find myself passing up one word that describes exactly what I mean for another that evokes the feeling I wish to convey. I sometimes speak aloud as I type, since words that are read have a different flavor than words merely thought. The structure and flow of a single sentence may set the scene more beautifully than an entire paragraph of dry, informative text, for the right arrow fired at the proper moment will strike a greater blow than an entire quiver hitting all around the mark. The pace of a story may likewise be determined with the style in which it is written; monosyllabic phrasing and short, abrupt sentences can lend a sense of urgency and haste to a heart-pounding action sequence, yet, elsewhere, such stilted prose would seem clumsy and unimaginative. The title and topic of a story may attract the reader, but your voice is what ensnares them. A great story told poorly is a chore to read.
Unfortunately, I cannot tell how to find your voice. Seeking it cannot be a deliberate act but rather a holistic, explorative process. It is something that can be learned but never taught. I can tell you how I found mine: by reading. I read voraciously, both fiction and nonfiction, sometimes just for the sake of reading itself. Art cannot form in a vacuum, and the voices of many other writers have influenced and informed my own. When I find something that appeals to me, I read it over and over until I am no longer reading the words themselves but, instead, reading the space that lies under, around, and between them. Sometimes what I learn is sitting on the surface, such as a piece of linguistic chicanery that pulls my attention in one direction while establishing some small detail for later revelation. Other times the lesson is something deeper and not so easily discernible, a novel turn of phrase that may have little to do with the topic at hand but which seasons the text in the way that a dash of salt perfects a dish. With every lesson I absorb and every trick I discover in the writing of others, my own evolves as something singular and unique.
Finding your voice is a powerful and liberating experience, and I believe that it is the secret to both success and satisfaction as a writer. It is as much a part of your identity as your name or the titles you pen, and it will continue to evolve throughout your career. The emergence of my voice coincided with my debut publication, and it has revolutionized my work. Find yours, and be heard.
Learn more about Anders Benson by visiting his website, finding him on Facebook, reading his blog, or following him on Twitter.