Monday, September 15, 2008
On the craft of writing
Here is a wonderful link (courtesy of Susan Adrian) to Jennifer Lynn Barnes who writes about finding and keeping the joy of writing. Most of it (okay, ALL of it) rang true, especially:
"Give yourself permission to suck." I've heard this before. It's a variation on the Shitty First Draft theory, but this is a really hard habit for me to break. I began writing in the pre-Whiteout pre-Spellcheck prehistoric days so if I made a mistake, I had to start all over again. Uninhibited, free-flow expression took a backseat to slow, careful, accurate prose (although in my case, free expression was screaming out the window and mooning innocent bystanders while plotting for her turn at the wheel.)
"Don't stop reading as a reader." Ah, another bad habit of mine and one I'm trying to correct. I also carry this one over to the movie theatre where I find myself thinking things like, "oh, there's the inciting incident, a little late and I would have done it this way," However, when I am lucky enough to find a really great story with characters I believe in and care about, I will be completely immersed in that world and forget who wrote it, or even that I'm sitting there reading. And a great story isn't necessarily a well-written story. THE DA VINCI CODE comes to mind as a book savaged by critics as poorly written and yet, I kept turning the pages to see what happened next. Which makes me wonder what Brown's S.F.D. looked like.
I also realized I have to stick to what I'm good at, and write what I enjoy. I am asked frequently if I'm going to write a novel, and while I have a number of ideas outlined and chunks written, I find that short essays are fun, and they're what I've been able to publish, so I guess if it ain't broke....
If you write, have a look at Jennifer's blog and see if you recognize yourself. I know I did.