Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A Writer's Journey

I'm a writer. I consider it a calling, a gift. I struggle with it and fight with it, but I love it. People approach me and feel compelled to share: "I'm going to write a book someday, too."

They don't. Why?

Because it's hard work.

Not only do I need to know how to use the English language to entertain, I need to know how to build a character that my reader will care about. I have to carve an idea into a beginning, a middle, and a compelling end that keeps the pages turning. I have to produce a plot that promises and then delivers. I must write sentences that show versus tell, then challenge every word choice, every word uttered in dialogue, every description. Could these words be more complex, deliver more punch, and paint a more vivid picture? Did this scene do what I wanted it to do?

Typing THE END doesn't mean the end.

I must rend apart pages and pages of heartfelt work, leave behind the skeleton and build again.

All this takes a discipline that on a good day I have in abundance and on a bad day leaves me playing solitaire. Most people don't have that discipline and the dream of writing a book stays on their someday list.

The notion didn't stay on mine. I would read stories and rewrite them in my head when they weren't satisfying or I just plain wanted the storyline to continue. From that action came the desire to write something of my own. I wanted to write stories that would entertain and provide an escape. I wanted to see my name on a book cover. I wanted a copy on my computer or my bookshelf. I wanted a copy on my father's computer and his bookshelf. Better still, I wanted you to have a copy on your computer or bookshelf.

The journey has been years in the making. I've learned from books, from workshops, from other writers and by trial and error.

When I had that first book finished and polished, I hit another stumbling block - selling it. Who knew that writing the book and learning how to develop a submission package were two different things? Who knew the skills were so different that it would take more workshops, more books, and more trial and error to get it right? I certainly didn't.

I could have quit right there. I'd written a full manuscript, satisfied my need to tell a story, and knew I could do it again if I wanted to. And I did. But it didn't satisfy the need to get it on the bookshelf.

To do that I had to prepare that submission package and send it out into the world. Did I get banged up? Yes. But eventually I accumulated the skill to put together a package that was better than a recitation of a basic storyline. I learned how to show my story, how to insert the emotion, and how to polish these words until reading the synopsis would cause tears and frustration, laughter and joy. And if I could do that in a synopsis, can you imagine how the book read?

We can teach you how to do this, too. Every month we'll be posting articles with tips on how to write. Whether fiction, non-fiction, or a desire to freelance, matters not. The advice is the same. There are no elaborate techniques, no talking above your head, no magic wand. You must come at this with a willingness to learn. You must come with a willingness to rewrite and rewrite to get it right. I guarantee you'll end with a product you will be proud to represent your work...to an agent, to an editor, to a publisher, to a client.

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