Beth and I have been talking–a lot–about drag queens. We discovered we both love RuPaul’s Drag Race to distraction – and we’ve been applying the show’s timeless lessons to the rest of our lives. So here’s what drag queens have taught us about writing.
You can tell a confident writer from sentence one. They know where the story is going and will hold you firmly by the hand as they show you all the marvelous things. The confident writer strides much as the confident queen, certain that she will not trip on the hem of her gown or twist a heel. Is that spotlight in your eye? Stay focused on the way it must be setting off the glitter in your eyeliner! Chin up, fingers on the keys. Go.
2. Learn the skills
Those bitches who don’t know how to sew are screwed.
Every craft has a skillset, whether it be mastering a sexy walk in high heels or learning the proper placement of a semicolon. Read a book or two on the skills; learn the rules (yes, you betta work!) so you can know exactly how to break them and still look fabulous doing so.
3. Tuck your junk
We told you above to learn the skills: now complete the illusion by making it look effortless. Just as a drag queen tucks, and shaves, and makes sure the silver lame gets trimmed properly before she hits the main stage, writers need to refine their work to really make it shine. Did you spell-check? Do the sentences flow? Is everything in the story really necessary, or do you need to murder some of your darlings? When you’re ready to share your work, be clean, be tucked, be fierce! (Ref: point one.)
4. It’s not enough to be pretty
No matter how pretty that final draft is, it’s not enough. It needs to be a good story, told with passion. It needs fresh, strong ideas. It needs to touch our hearts. Lead us to a strange new country with your words, and make us fall in love with it.
5. Commit wholeheartedly to your own extraordinary vision
Your vision won’t be right for everyone. What was she thinking–all that silver lamé fabric lookin’ like crumpled tin foil exploding from a trash can… (What was she thinking, a blog post about what drag queens taught them about writing…)
But that’s okay. Because the thing is, wholehearted commitment is stunningly compelling. The best queens make even the most ridiculous outfits look magical, simply by their commitment to their vision.
I wrote a while back about that insane blue jay who comes to visit. He struts his stuff like any drag queen would, even on the uneven fence edge. He trusts, he commits, he throws his whole self in. Do the same with your vision.
Put the bass in your walk
Ultimately we’re all just lip synching for our lives. Good luck, and don’t fuck it up.
Stock image from Becs_Stock on deviantArt