clues at the scene

clues at the scene

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Postcards from Success

At left, Writing Fiction: A Guide to the Narrative Craft.

I had a conversation this morning with a friend who commented on yesterday's post about writing, a workshop, and anxiety.

The short version: you rarely get better working alone in the laundry room.

Oh - you develop habits (good and bad) and turn out work (good) - but without feedback, interaction, and some perspective you gain from reading the works of other unbaked writers you remain in the same state as when you crawled into the laundry room.

I loved "unbaked" as if we just need the proper convection device.

You wanted to get better, didn't you? You want to have an auction over your book? You aren't just writing to send random pdf files to acquaintances?

Yes. I admitted that I wanted to get better. I admitted my plots are dull in execution, my characters are uninspiring and the prose is not at all compelling. All I have is a plot buried in there (once a cool idea) and an intrusive narrator who occasionally says something to break the monotony. Sometimes, not.

So - getting better means exchanging work and following the advice of critiques. It means reading and learning. It means going to workshops and classes.

It means working as hard at getting better as getting the material out.

I've started through today's volume sometime in December. I've worked through page ninety-three. There are 300 more to go.  The book is great. It is the prayer book in most MFA programs. It is used because it is a good grounding.

I need to be working through it. You need to be working through something. Wondering where to start? Buy a sixth or seventh edition used for $20 to your door. Start working through it. There is something in ever chapter you know. There's something there you do not know.

We need to be working as hard at getting better as we work at telling our tales. Writing is hard. Getting better is hard. You've picked an avocation which is hard. When I meet you in a bar and you say "I write in the laundry room," I'll buy you a drink. I know what it is like.

We're in the club. They put our picture on the backs of books if we work hard enough at getting better. It's like a milk carton picture of what we want to be: published authors.

Take a walk. Think about getting better. Buy the book. You've worked too hard not to get better. So have I.

Back to it. Read widely. Write. Get better.

Send me a postcard from success when you get there.

No comments: