Monday, September 14, 2009

Monday Thinking

While blog-hopping this morning, I visited Tabitha's blogsite (excellent site people should follow, plus she's just snagged an agent so do visit and congrat her)

Her post for today -

When to Give Up

- got me thinking about something I saw over the weekend somewhere. And this 'something' pops up from time to time. It is an excuse or prop that writers use a lot, depending on where they are in their own writing.

If a person feels confident about their writing (doesn't mean it's good writing, just that THEY feel it's good), they are more likely to make a statement like "You are either born a writer, or you're not".

If somebody doesn't feel confident or is looking at the craft from viewpoint that their glass is half empty and they have no idea how to make it overflowing, they'll make the same statement - "Some people are born writers, the rest of us are scribblers".

I can't tell you how much I HATE and LOATHE such statements. They are simplistic and degrade and demean people who have truly worked and applied themselves to their craft. To other people, it may appear natural and easy, but it isn't really. As Tabitha said, those people are successful because they took the time.

There is that quote from Pride and Prejudice which I think of all the time. I'm away from my well-worn copy of the book and am dratted at quoting lines exactly, so I won't attempt it. It's that part where Elizabeth is sitting at the piano-forte between Darcy and his cousin. She's berating him for not applying himself at balls. She draws on the comparision to her piano playing, saying she is not a master because she never took the time to practice enough. Darcy brightly tells her that she spent her time doing better things. Which seems to indicate he had a poor opinion of the piano-forte, unless I'm recalling his statement completely wrong.

Both Darcy and Elizabeth were RIGHT. Elizabeth struck the correct point in saying that she might have been an absolute ARTIST had she applied herself. Darcy reminded her that she never considered her time wasted when she spent it on other things.

That (to me) is the difference between a successful writer and somebody who's looking in from the outside. I guess they they need to acknowledge Elizabeth's regret (though I don't think she was truly regretful) and apply it to themselves.

They call themselves 'writers', but do they give all they can to the craft? Do they practice and push themselves? Do they take the time?

Or are they like Darcy, and did they deliberately take that time they might have spent practicing (in his case - developing a better social manner so he could go all-Bingley whenever the occasion called for it) and use it to do other stuff that they enjoyed doing?*

*In my case it would be a huge list of OTHER STUFF which limited the daily hours spent perfecting my craft.

Yes, I will allow that some people are more personable and effusive than others, which makes them ideal storytellers, but even that viewpoint doesn't exactly say the rest of us are non-ideal storytellers. It just means one more step that we must learn and master before we reach our pinnacle of success.

As for how you apply yourself - you first need to identify the ways you have and are wasting your time. Compare the time you spend actually writing to the time you spend 'preparing' to write. How much time do you spend agonizing over an exceedingly long post on a forum, and how much time do you spend agonizing over a mere 500 words in your WIP?

Speaking for myself, I have no problems typing up a long post such as this, but I meticulate (is that even a word) about getting in my 1-2 thousand words a day in my WIP.

Way bad me.

But you will never catch me saying that the reason why I'm not selling a LOT of shorts and novels is because I was born minus a genetic mark.

Unlike some other people out there, I made the deliberate decision to begin writing. I had the desire to create something, and my drawing ability didn't cut it. :P

The learning process for writing is a LONG one, and relies on a constant flow of inspiration and practice. But it isn't impossible.

Unless you make it so by not trying anymore. Even then, I guess the point before you kill yourself trying to regain everything you lost by lack of practice:

- Do you just want to be a dabbler like Elizabeth, content to entertain from time to time, but not willing to put in that extra frustratingly self-denying time to excel?

There's nothing wrong with that, just try to understand WHY you do not excel. It's generally because you have applied yourself otherwise.

Or you have been trying to convince yourself that you must do a 'certain' kind of writing or nothing.

That would be like me if I tried to become a mangaka - a style of art that I admire. Problem is, I'm TERRIBLE at drawing stuff like that. I just don't draw proper people. I make them look very strange and yuck. But I AM a fairly good landscape, abstract, and animal type artist. The emotion I can't manufacture when drawing people emerges when I'm drawing a delicate flower waving in a breeze. Same thing when I draw a dog or a horse. It's something I had to acknowledge to myself.

So, if the writing isn't working - be flexible. Discover where your stronger areas are.

Weekend Review

Editing - Nil

Writing - 5000 words. I'm mourning my failure to reach 7-10 thousand words, but acknowledge that was VERY optimistic considering the time I had available both days. College football is very detrimental to my writing application. I did finish a chapter and figure out a LOT of plot that I'm happy with.

Reading - Um. I read half a page of Blue Moon.

Week Plot - Continue where I left off, write the next chapter. One thing I'm battling with this morning is trying to figure out how to 'unprotect' my main character. The reason why she hasn't seen or felt anything is because her paternal grandma had something done (possibly through Ethan's mother) to shield her. This is the reason why Wesley was rejected by her mom, because she was essentially useless.

Originally was going to have a near-death situation. At school, nearly run over by a SUV, but ERK! I fortunately realized where my imagination got that idea from before I did any writing on it. :S


  1. Very interesting post. I have to say, I wasn't born a writer, but I did start somewhere in Kindergarden, and have been trying to learn it ever since. It definitely takes a special kind of determined patience. I'm in the editing part of my novel, and its still a challenge.

  2. You definitely can't be in a hurry to publish when you first start. :)

    That would be like giving your child a piano, indulge in lessons long enough for the kid to learn how to read notes and make the proper connection to the keys, and then yanking the kid out of school and offering their 'talents' at concert halls for a steep fee.

    Mastering the piano relies on more than the ability to play an instrument. It also relies on flexibility and interpretation... voice. That only comes with lots and lots of time spent connecting emotions with the keys.

    That's the reason why somebody who quickly learns to read notes and can play advanced pieces still needs to put the time in.

    It's the same with writing. I know some people who know how to write, but they have to work just as much as other people do at practicing their craft so they offer a product that resonates with their audience. It's that part which takes months or even years to develop in addition to the other mundane stuff that goes into writing a story.


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