Thursday, December 27, 2012

When the Writing is Good

Okay, so here I am again. No, it's not Monday, but I did mention this would be a sporadic blog. Plus, it's better to shake things up. Who wants a damned routine anyway, right? I know us writers love to be in a routine, it's how we are taught to exist. I know I said something similar in a blog post over the summer (have you noticed I'm double backing on a lot of things I've said yet?) on how routines work for a lot of folks and the comfort of familiarity has many, many positives. Nevertheless, it can be dangerous if we allow that routine to become a rut. And that, ladies and gentlemen, can totally kill any kind of creativity, no matter how skilled your talent has become.

Anywho, I'm not going to yark up the same old material I've yarked up in the summer (diggin' that word yet?). You've read a blog post about the four greatest sins writers are told, you've read how writing has to be done in your own decisive manner, because we are vessels of creativity and we must find our best ways to channel that creativity. Now, I want to talk about taking the next step in your writing.

Let me start simply by saying anyone can write (shocker I know), and while I believe the independent publishing business (self-publishing) has allowed many folks to get their material out and promote it and get all the funds back from the sales and that's totally awesome. However, this kind of freedom has allowed a lot of mediocre writing to be published. The writing industry is a competitive field, and I think the self publishing business has become more of an escape goat from the regular (yet somehow intimidating) publishing industry.

A lot of folks write, and even more folks want to be writers, and I see a lot of folks who give up on going the old fashioned route because they get turned down or because it's "too hard". You must not do this! There are tons of writers, and you have to ask yourself (perhaps while looking in the mirror), "what is it that makes me stand out from the other writers?"

If you dig long enough, you will find it's the drive to become the best you can be.

With this comes a simpler understanding about yourself I think a lot of folks miss--because they've accepted the writing field as too difficult or challenging to make any kind of money from--and it's dedication. You might think that anticlimactic, but hear me out because when I talk about dedication, I don't mean sitting down and writing everyday, I don't even mean making sure yours edit are done. When I talk about dedication, it's a complete immersion of thinking, believing, and then saying, "I want to be a New York Times bestselling author and I'm willing to die for it."

That's it.

It can't be that easy can it? Certainly not, I've been rejected hundreds of times, I haven't made a living doing this, etc, etc.

Then you haven't dedicated yourself enough, and more importantly, you don't believe in yourself. And I know, a lot of folks flare up and say they do believe in themselves, but do they really? When the cards are down, and you are facing a whirlwind of troubles (money, doubt, relationship problems, etc), do you have the guts to push and become the best you can be? Will you keep on doing your craft as long as you can breathe and are able bodied?

If you dedicate yourself, you believe in yourself. When you believe in yourself, you become confident. When you are confident, you know you will get to where you want to be and everything will be fine as long as you pursue your goal. And when you've realized this, and feel the accomplishment is coming, you understand having a plan B is pointless.

So many writers have a plan B because writing doesn't make money (or so we are told), and having a plan B is an essential part of our life as a writer. And you will be encouraged by others to have a plan B because people will think and maybe even say, Writer? Why in God's name would you want to write? There isn't any money in that.

But you must understand, if you have a plan B, it's because you believe plan A won't work. You are operating from a mindset that your main goal in life (successful author) might not come to fruition and you focus on plan B instead of working towards plan A. You must toss away with plan B. So what if you fail? What is the worst that could happen? Embarrassment? Injured pride? Wouldn't you rather go about your life knowing what you shot for didn't work out instead of wondering what if? But even more importantly, what if plan A worked? What if you wrote a novel that sold and landed the number one spot on the New York Times list?

How does that make you feel?

So you push forward, through the ups and the downs. You drive yourself to work hard on your writing, because you don't have anything to fall back on. Plan A must work, and you give everything you have to become that number one author. And as time goes on, you will notice your writing takes a turn. The words will not just form sentences, but segments of poetry, words that aren't really words, but meaning, something that carries its own merit, something that lives and breathes on its own long after the creator has passed on.

I wanted very much to be a person of value and I had to ask myself how this could be possible if there were not something like a soul or like a spirit that is in the life of a person and which could endure any misfortune or disfigurement and yet be no less for it. If one were to be a person of value that value could not be a condition subject to hazards of fortune. It had to be a quality that could not change. No matter what. Long before morning I knew that what I was seeking to discover was a thing I'd always known. That all courage was a form of constancy. That it was always himself that the coward abandoned first. After this all other betrayals came easily. -- Cormac McCarthy "All the Pretty Horses"


When you read another author's work, someone who has written and sold books for a long time, you will notice a way the words flow, a way they connect and simply sing. They are words you can read aloud and they roll off the tongue and taste like honey. Here are other examples.


It was a very sweet kiss. It was very friendly and comfortably warm and it tasted like apricots and fresh apples and as water tastes when you rise at night and walk into a dark, warm summer kitchen and drink from a cool tin cup. -- Ray Bradbury "Hopscotch"

Standing in the yard now, knuckles aching, he could hear it too. Old MacDonald had a farm. And everything was hunky-dory on it. You farmed and tilled and reaped and sowed and everything was just fucking great. Everyone got along, even the chickens and the cows, and no one needed to talk about anything, because nothing bad ever happened and nobody had any secrets because secrets were for bad people, people who climbed in cars that smelled of apples with strange men and disappeared for four days, only to come back home and find everyone they'd known had disappeared, too, been replaced with smiley-faced look-alikes who'd do just about anything but listen to you. -- Dennis Lehane "Mystic River"

The most important things are the hardest to say. They are the things you get ashamed of, because words diminish them -- words shrink things that seemed limitless when they were in your head to no more than living size when they're brought out. But it's more than that, isn't it? The most important things lie too close to wherever your secret heart is buried, like landmarks to a treasure your enemies would love to steal away. And you may make revelations that cost you dearly only to have people look at you in a funny way, not understanding what you've said at all, or why you thought it was so important that you almost cried while you were saying it. That's the worst, I think. When the secret stays locked within not for want of a tellar but for want of an understanding ear. -- Stephen King "The Body"


These guys have made it because they dedicated themselves to making their writing the best it can be, and because they simply love what they do. They would write these stories regardless of whether or not they were paid.

And that is how you must go. You write because you want to share your work, you want to give people a moment's reprieve from this world and enlighten them with something that resonates and stays with them.

Dedicate yourself to your writing. Make it as amazing as it can be and be willing to die for your work. Be willing to believe you can make it in writing no matter what others say or the doubts that race through your mind late at night. Relax the mind and go forward. Writing is a feeling gig anyway, why dilute it by over thinking? Forget plan B because it distracts from plan A. And push, always push. If you do all these things, and you know and feel that you will make it to the top, you will become what you seek.

Time. Truth. Heart.


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