Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Writing for Life...

Weekly Motivational Essay for Writers (reprint)

"Contrary to what many of you may imagine, a career in letters is not without its drawbacks - chief among them the unpleasant fact that one is frequently called upon to sit down and write." ~~ Charles Kingsley

You mean… there's work involved?


The inspiration I am feeling today is coming from the outside. I can't help it. I'm surrounded (in a cyber kind of way) by all these fabulous, productive, dedicated writers who strive nearly every day to push forward towards their dreams. Many of you have multiple books under your belts. Books that have been nurtured and pruned so patiently my eyes well up with tears of admiration. Amazing.

"I've always just wanted to earn my living by writing. The best thing is to go into my study in the morning and put words together." ~~ Joyce Carol Oates

What I've gained from this awesome association is the realization of how lucky I am, how lucky we are, to not only have the opportunity to explore (and fight for) our collective dream, but to hang out with such astonishing people.

Writers. Can there be a better group?

"Writing is just having a sheet of paper, a pen and not a shadow of an idea of what you are going to say." ~~Francoise Sagan

Part of what we share is the realization that a book does not magically appear because of our wishes or dreams. The magic we sense when we crack the covers of our favorite tomes is not produced by waving a magic wand or casting a spell (darn it!). Instead, we've found that each sentence, each paragraph, each page, each chapter must be typed one word at a time. Plots must formulated, whether ahead of time or as the pages fly by. Characters sketched out, conflict established, sub-plots woven in, minor characters dreamt up, and all those nagging little details to be covered before we even finish our first draft!

"Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way." ~~ Rainer Maria Rilke from Letters to a Young Poet

Courage, patience, perseverance, passion and a great sense of humor is all required to keep the energy up and the spirits high as we travel that lonely highway. No one but a fellow writer understands what a tremendous journey this is. Nor how lucky we are when a tire blows out on our fictional vehicle and another traveler pulls over—delaying her own journey—just to offer a spare.

"Write as often as possible, not with the idea at once of getting into print, but as if you were learning an instrument." ~~J B Priestley

Writing takes patience, as I said, not only because each story must be crafted and polished. Our skill level improves the more we string those words together. Back in the 60's, the Beatles took the world by storm. Since their success seemed so sudden, it seemed like they were indeed an overnight success. Yet one listen to the BBC tapes and you'll know. Those boys perfected their craft years before they recorded their first album. In Hamburg, they played for eight hours at a time. Mind-boggling to consider. They could probably perform a hundred songs and perfected dozens of styles. Their first album was cut in One Day. Unbelievable!! They recorded live too, as a group, without endless overdubs or special effects.

Unlike the average Joe, writers get that. We too spend hours perfecting our craft, often studying dozens of authors to grasp different styles. We've accepted that writing is unlike any other quest. There is magic inherent within words, yet skill is required to coax it out. To tease out the eloquence we hear within our hearts.

"Good novels are not written, they are rewritten. Great novels are diamonds mined from layered rewrites." ~~ Piers Paul Read

As tempting as it can be to shout, "I'm done," most writers agree--a novel takes patience to perfect. I chuckle too in realizing how as time goes on, my personal definition of great writing (at least as it pertains to my own clumsy efforts) has changed. In the beginning, it was so dang essential to my self-esteem that I see myself as a Great Writer that to be told my story needed more work would be quite insulting. "How dare they! I'll show them." *grumble-grumble*

Now of course, it seems inevitable that my stories will need a bit of a polish. What I'm always grateful for is the kind soul with a sharp eye who can help me pinpoint where the trouble spots are and even offer some direction. People like… you. All of you. My fellow writers who *get* the blessed combination of exhilaration and angst each writer goes through. I'm grateful to each and every one of you.

Here's to a Super-Productive week! Let's put our best fingers forward *smile* and surpass wildest expectations!

How about you? Any goals to share??

Happy Writing (and Revising) everyone! Remember… We Are WRITERS! Now… Go-go-GO!!



Rita Horiguchi, writing as Rita St. Claire said...

I love this motivational blog. Just found out about it.

I know what you mean about perfecting one's work. I'm in the throes of that now.

Chiron O'Keefe said...

Rita, thanks! I'm so glad you like the blog.

There really is a special thrill to crafting one's story. Watching it take shape, one word at a time.

Good luck with perfecting your story. Let's make this week count!