Monday, August 25, 2008

The Path of Persistence…

"I handed in a script last year and the studio didn't change one word. The word they didn't change was on page 87." --Steve Martin

There is nothing more eye opening to the Real Business of writing than handing over your manuscript to a professional editor. Or, even worse, entering a contest and having your entry trashed by an anonymous judge. Ouch!

We've all felt it. The sting of rejection. The reason this hurts so very much is because we become attached to our words. We slave over them, take pride in them, feel a special glow when we reread them. Every artist shares this. Once a well-meaning hairstylist gave me a 'do which she thought would absolutely make my singer-songerwriter persona. When she spun me proudly around to face the mirror, I saw my hair shooting out like spikes. I made the mistake of bursting out with laughter (to my credit, it did seem kinder than bursting into tears).

Yet we ARE writers. Real writers. Which means, once we experience that slap in the face (and it really does feel like that, doesn't it?), we pick ourselves up, collect our pages and start polishing once again.

"Real writers recognize the words they cut are as vital as the words they leave in." –Chiron O'Keefe

We get our hands dirty, so to speak. Real writers don't back away from the tedious and messy task of revisions. Some love this part (I'm one) and some would rather poke their eyes out with a burning stick. What fills me with awe are those writers who hate revising and still they tackle it without hesitation. Bravo to you, I say!! Take a well-deserved bow. Considering all the souls in the world dedicated to procrastination and avoidance, You Are A Winner.

"In going where you have to go, and doing what you have to do, and seeing what you have to see, you dull and blunt the instrument you write with. But I would rather have it bent and dull and know I had to put it on the grindstone again and hammer it into shape and put a whetstone to it, and know I had something to write about, than to have it bright and shining and nothing to say, or smooth and well-oiled in the closet, but unused." --Ernest Hemingway

Truth is, "natural born" talent is overrated. As a musician, I speak from experience. As a teen, I remember being awestruck by the talent of two girls. They could play music, write songs, and harmonize, everything I yearned to do. Well, decades later, I am the far superior musician. Why? Because they never went further than their initial talent took them. While I (who had NO TALENT to speak of) persisted and pushed to reach a level of expertise. Every week I keep learning more. As far as I'm concerned, I haven't reached my pinnacle yet! They skated on their fluency and stayed there.

Persistence, dedication and passion will take you further than "natural born" talent ever will. The passion must spring from a desperate need to for self-expression. It's not enough to want to write, you must burn with desire to Tell Your Story Your Way.

"A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us." --Franz Kafka

"You can't wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club." --Jack London

"Fiction is a lie, and good fiction is the truth inside the lie." --Stephen King

Axes and clubs! Writing is brutal stuff. As we scribble pads or tap keys searching for the truth in our story, we must persist. Take heart though, because the rewards are unparalleled.

You Are A Writer.

You Create Worlds Within Each Story You Pen.

"I admire anybody who has the guts to write anything at all." -E.B. White

So do I… *grin*

Here we are entering the last week of August. Summer will soon be a memory as the leaves transform into brilliant bursts of gold and scarlet, reminding us of autumn's approach. Enjoy those lingering rays of sunshine, my friends, then… Back To Writing! *smile*

Ready for goals?

I finally finished my tentative outline. *faints* Thank Goddess!!

So… writing this week. Shooting for fifteen pages.
My weekly essay.
Four chapter crit.
Might be pulling out my second book for revising too.

How's about you?

Go-go-GO! Write-write-WRITE!!



Elaine Cantrell said...

Great post, Chiron. I have a friend who's written a wonderful book, but she got so far with it and gave up.

Elaine Cantrell

Misty Evans said...

Guts. It's all about guts. Facing the stuff that scares us, whether it's putting a fresh sentence on a blank page or revising until our eyes cross. Great motivation, Chiron. You hit the heart of it.

Back to swinging my club!

Sandy said...


I like revisions, too. They make you think, and then your book turns out so much better.


Angela Guillaume said...

Lovely post, Chiron. Revisions are a necessary good or necessary evil, depending on how one looks at them. I'd rather see them as a necessary good, the chance to grow and improve. Then perhaps the deleted parts will find a home elsewhere, so nothing is ever written in vain :-). You're right, thank GoddESS we write!

Chiron said...

Hello Elaine!

Resisting the temptation to give up may be the single most difficult task a writer faces. Writing is so personal, and the process of sharing your words is such a fragile one.

I hope in time your friend comes back to her writing. Tell her we all go through it. The best of the best have felt like giving up. So she's not alone.

Thanks so much for stopping by...


Chiron said...

Hello Misty!

Guts... YES! Facing our fears... Jumping down the rabbit hole. *grin*



Chiron said...


I do too. I love the whole process of shaping and perfecting.

Thanks for your comments!


Chiron said...

Hello Angela!

Yes, the necessary evil. *grin* Or maybe it's more like trimming hair to prevent split ends. Woot!

I started off with a massive "cuttings" file to save all those precious bits. Now, while I save some of it, I've become much more carefree about lopping off the hunks that don't work.

Thank Goddess for those handy friend/crit partner/mirrors to give us a clear reflection when we take scissors to our new look... er... book. *heh-heh*

Thanks so much for visiting!!