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.


laughingwolf said...

great link, pam, thx...

i'm with you on having started writing in cave man days, but then, i still write first drafts, and many others, in long hand, then rewrite again, many times, at the computer

if you haven't yet, read holly kennedy's 'the tin box', you'll bawl your eyes out like i did... AND she's another cauck! ;)

Laura Bradbury said...

Dear Pam,

Love this. Merci!


P.S. Now going back to the land of the teething monster

laughingwolf said...

make that: CANUCK :(