The lyric, "You can turn a phrase into a weapon or a drug," is what made me believe again that my writing can make a difference. Words on a page can draw someone in, make them think and experience something again or something new.
People often talk about a novel being plot-driven or character-driven. For me, that can be an artificial distinction. For my taste, the best novels -- those that capture me and make me feel sorry the read is coming to an end -- are those driven by both.
The first time I told someone about my dream of being a writer, I was told that I needed to learn to love criticism. Why on Earth would I love hearing someone point out everything that was wrong with my story? Then we started to peer edit each other's work in school.
The scholarly and professional styles that earned you good grades and your way up the ladder won't win the hearts of readers of fiction or memoir. These readers are looking for the real deal. These readers want the feral you, the wild you that answers to no one.
Just as you cannot become adept at making love by thinking about it, you will not be successful as a writer by allowing your thoughts and feelings about writing to stand in for the writing practice itself.
As writers, we ultimately sell ourselves out. When I find the courage to write about my family, friends or some unassuming stranger, I'm not revealing a truth about them. I am revealing a truth about myself.