This blog post originally aired on September 9, 2009 and still rings true today.
As much as I would love to say this blog is all about writing a contemporary romance between a curvy gal and her hero, it’s not. Far from it. Although…no! Focus.
Do you remember when you were in school and you encountered a tough subject you just knew you’d never be able to grasp? Maybe you didn’t understand it so therefore it remained a mystery. Maybe you just needed a nudge in the right direction. Maybe you needed someone to tell you straight up what you were doing wrong and how to fix it. Regardless, I’ll bet you learned the subject and then went on to excel at it. (Just FYI, Algebra was my Achilles’ heel and I never did master it. That was because of a lack of a dedicated teacher. To this day I don’t “get” it.)
Writing is no different.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve gone through my life with a pen in hand, scribbling like mad on a notebook that’s always with me. I still carry a notebook, but most of my ramblings go directly to the laptop these days. The drive to create something that was both a part of me, but outside of myself at the same time burns bright. All through the years, creative writing teachers said I had talent. I could make a career as a novelist if I wanted. I entertained my fellow students with my stories. Impressed my teachers. Life was good.
Then real life did a drive-by on me and it would be another fifteen years or so before I attempted to Get Serious and Do Something about my scribbling.
I won’t go into the trials and tribulations about my road to being published. I’ve talked often on the subject and you are an enterprising web surfer you can find how I got my start. I think it's entitled Overcoming Inertia. I’m attempting to get to the point of this blog entry before my mind interjects “too wordy” or “sentence structure off. Please revise.”
Writing’s a whole big mesh of talent, turn of phrase, a bunch of rules you can or cannot break, skill and finesse. And through it all, you need to learn.
If you’re not learning, you’re fermenting, and eventually your writing will wither and die.
Enter a new editor. Good or bad tidings? (And no, ominous music is NOT playing) And just like that I entered the next phase of my writing life.
I’ve had the honor and pleasure of meeting a handful of editors over the course of the last year, and only a couple rise head and shoulders above the rest. These individuals take me outside my comfort zone, make me think about my writing, how the characters got to where they are, and why I wrote what I did.
In short, a good editor is worth their weight in gold. And these people are more valuable to me and my writing career than anything I can pull from a self-help book.
Why? They don’t take excuses, so I might as well not even try. And because I want to learn. I want to soak up the knowledge like a sponge to improve my writing and turn it from good to something fantastic. Remember when I said if you’re not learning, you’re dying? Insert that advice here in a really loud, booming voice. Don’t assume that something you wrote years ago is still as good today. It can’t be. Everyone’s style evolves. It has to or the writer grows stagnant. So, don’t close your mind to a learning opportunity. Learn. Evolve. Excel.
Oh sure, upon meeting a tough editor, you might rant and cry, go into deep denial that someone could have the audacity to mark up your work, shuffle around in depression a bit, but let me tell you, you’re going to be fine. You’re going to pull yourself out of the muck and you’re going to take a good, hard look at those suggestions in the margins. You’re going to think and think some more.
So, if you’re serious about succeeding at being an author, check your ego at the door. Then you’re going to learn and start again, this time making your story into something great.
Update, modern day June 16, 2010.
Can I just say that I remember well which book I was struggling with when I wrote this post. It's my watershed moment. I can recall, down to the very moment, when I understood alot about what being a writer--nay, an author--is all about. How exactly to craft a story and make it believable, filled with emotion, complete with flawless motivation and drive. In that one mystical moment, I firmly believed in myself and my skill as a story teller.
Oh sure, there are writers out there who will say writing isn't work and they'll continue to write exactly the same book they did before because it "worked" at whatever time. They'll say there is no new learning, no new advice. They want you to believe they are the beginning and the end in a particular genre.
I say? Don't listen to them. They're stagnating in their own odoriferous ego and quite frankly, they're stinkin' up the place for the rest of us LOL
I said it above and I'll say it again because it bears repeating. Every day, every step in the writing journey is about learning your craft. You will never know all there is to know about writing, not even when you die. Sorry kids, that's just the truth of it.
Since that scary, shiny day in September, my own writing has grown by leaps and bounds. I've strengthened it, leaped over every bar I've personally set for myself and vaulted over some that others have set for me as well. I've knocked down barriers and quieted some of the naysayers.
And you know what? I can't wait to bust the next set of myths fate throws my way because with every book I finish, I've learned a valuable lesson that will carry forward to the next.
I hope you're ready ;-)
That being said, along with the typical goodie bag I'm giving away, the lucky random winner will get a free download of my Halloween short The Haunting of Amelia Pritchart so be sure and leave your email address along with your comment.
Make it a great day folks!