Monday, June 2, 2008

Writing the Waves...

"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." --Groucho Marx

I must confess, I love to write. Although sometimes the desire is more like a wish to have written. *smile* Maybe because, unlike other activities, say… cooking, I often have no recipe to go by. Just a gnawing hunger and an insatiable desire for a delicious meal.

During those times of struggle I do feel despair. I worry about plot points, I'm convinced my writing is wooden and stale. Yikes-a-rooni! The temptation to fill out invites to a massive pity-party is overwhelming. As mentioned many times before, those days you'll find me pacing my office, bunching hair in fists while shrieking, "I'm a hack, I'm a hack!"


Yet the truth is, all writers struggle between waves. The energy waxes and wanes. All writers endure the cycle of highs and lows. We ride a crest of creative inspiration and then hit the dirt. *heh-heh*

"Only a mediocre writer is always at his best." --W. Somerset Maugham

Think about that. How true! Writers who pen books of rare beauty or profound insights struggle just like the rest of us. They too worry about whether the book is working. They write each story One Page At A Time.

"I'd like to speak loftily about my attempts to mold the characters and to reach great heights of wisdom when all I'm trying to do is to tell a story that holds together." –Journal of a Novel, June 27, 1994, Write Away by Elizabeth George.

So, how to deal with the inevitable burnout and wavering confidence that is often a writer's due?

A frothy concoction comprised of equal portions of humor and optimism. *smile*

"It's a damn good story. If you have any comments, write them on the back of a check." --Erle Stanley Gardner

We develop confidence by recognizing that our accomplishments are supreme. Think about this… Last week I joked about Reality Shows. Here's one version you'll never see: A group of writers, trapped on an island until one produces a book that wins the approval of the most selective agents around. *grin*

Fear Factor contestants would quake in their boots! A challenge of thirty seconds versus a quest of how years?

"Writing is the hardest way of earning a living, with the possible exception of wrestling alligators." –Olin Miller

"Writing books is the closest men ever come to childbearing." --Norman Mailer

So true, so very true…

Ah, but we do have a secret. Despite the struggles, the mind-numbing effort, the endless days and nights of staring hopelessly at the computer screen wondering what the HELL comes next, We Love To Write. Writing is… magic. We Create Books.

Hot Damn.

"I really enjoy writing novels. It's like the ocean. You can just build a boat and take off." --Denis Johnson

Whatever we desire, we have the power and the ability to create. We can peer into the future or plunge backward into a turbulent history. Conjure up a slinky cat burgler stalking her lover's nefarious dealings or explore the ramifications of a family in crisis. Writing is an adventure and an opportunity for self-discovery. I love to write!

"Writing is a form of personal freedom. It frees us from the mass identity we see all around us. In the end, writers will write not to be outlaw heroes of some underculture but mainly to save themselves, to survive as individuals." --Don DeLillo

Now, just for fun, here are some rules of writing to keep us all on track. Which one is your favorite?

1. Do not put statements in the negative form.
2. And don't start sentences with a conjunction.
3. If you reread your work, you will find on rereading that agreat deal of repetition can be avoided by rereading and editing.
4. Never use a long word when a diminutive one will do.
5. Unqualified superlatives are the worst of all.
6. De-accession euphemisms.
7. If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.
8. Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.
9. Last, but not least, avoid clich├ęs like the plague.

~William Safire, 'Great Rules of Writing'
Summer is almost here! Let's celebrate as only writers can… *grin* Set those goals and reach for the stars! We Are Writers…

My weekly goals:
15-25 pages
Weekly essay.

How's about you?

Here's to a super-productive week! Go-go-GO!! Write-write-write!



Kris Kennedy said...


Super post!

I REALLY like the quote: "Only a mediocre writer is always at his best." --W. Somerset Maugham

That's fabulous!!

It's inspiring all on its own, and to have it tucked in there amid your fabulous cheerleading and positive upbeatness (that's not a word, is it? Sigh) I feel energized!

Thanks! Here's to a super-productive week (which I could get started on if I got off-line. LOL)


Renee Knowles said...

So right on, Chiron! Like always :) I especially liked this line, "Although sometimes the desire is more like a wish to have written."

I feel that way about now! Then again, I only thought I would have time to write a few hundred words today and now it's 1300 later LOL.

Thanks for the motivation :)


Sandy said...

Chiron, you're definitely not a hack.

Chiron O'Keefe said...

Hey Kris,

Thanks SO much! That quote really had an impact on me too. Yes!

Upbeatedness... Hmmmm... I love it! If writers have any perk, it's the opportunity to make up any words we please! (she says, chortling) *heh-heh*

Thanks so much for your comments!! Good writing to you this week!


Chiron O'Keefe said...

Hah, Renee!!

So glad to know another writer relates to that one. *wipes brow* :-D

Thanks so much!

1300 words... Wow, you ROCK!!



Chiron O'Keefe said...

Aw, Sandy...

Bless your heart! Thank-you!


Mary said...


I couldn't have said this better! I think I like rule number nine the best. Oh, I love the quotes, all of them! I feel so honored to be given the calling to write. As you, I love writing, and I love being a writer.

Your goals at the end of your post have inspired me even more than the whole post! Setting a goal is something I totally forgot to do. I have two important works in progress right now, and setting a page or chapter length is the perfect solution. Thanks.

Oh, we're friends over at Writers of Distinctive Fiction. Take care, and good luck with your goals.

Mary J. Dressel

Inspire said...


No one can write a blog like this and be called a 'hack'. What a great post. I too loved the quotes.

Writing is hard work. But the joy of unfolding a wonderful story and falling in love with your characters makes it worth it.

Chiron O'Keefe said...

Hey Mary!

I'm so pleased you like this week's essay... *smile* Yup, setting goals leads to accomplishment. PLUS, the boost you get whenever you reach that next rung on the ladder energizes you even more!! Woo-hoo!

Thanks so much for stopping by...

Smiles to you!

Chiron O'Keefe said...


You are the best. *blush* Thanks so much for your kind words.

I agree, the joy is incomparable. What's most fun is when the story is so clear, like music in my heart... My fingers dance on those keys!

Thanks, dear one!

Smiles and hugs,

C.J. Redwine said...

Love this post!

My goals: Finish my WIP by Monday...THIS Monday. (Hey, I only have 50,000 words to go. What could go wrong?) Send it off to the two agents who asked for it not knowing it wasn't finished yet. ;)

Then, breathe. Eat. Remember what it feels like to sleep.

Chiron O'Keefe said...

Great goals, C.J.!



Congrats on the quick request!! That's fabulous!

Hey, as a good friend often told me, "Sleep is for the weak."


Get writing, YOU!!


Miss Mae said...

Well, I didn't get any writing done today...**sob! sob!**...I had the best intentions, but..but..but...And I won't start this sentence on a conjunction either!

Superb blog, Chiron! Love it!


Chiron O'Keefe said...

Thanks, Miss Mae!

Ah, the duel between best intentions and our writing is on-going, eh?