This is my monthly post for
|The Insecure Writer’s Support Group|
If, unlike me, you do not live in the Land of Oblivia, and (like me)you are, or think you may be, a writer, the first Wednesday of the month is the time for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group blog hop. This is the once-a-month blog hop started by Alex J. Cavanaugh .
IWSG = Insecure Writers’ Support Group (click for the link). We share our insecurities and support each other with empathy, sympathy and practical suggestions.
Visit the site – and visit the co-hosts:
Chemist Ken, Suzanne Sapseed, and Shannon Lawrence!
It is time for admissions. I’ve been mulling things over and maybe I can give some enjoyment and, perhaps, get some nods, if I make a confession or two.
You see, I have a fundamental problem with ‘bettering’ myself as a writer. That doesn’t mean I will succumb to it. It does mean that once in a while I look up and find that pet…fear, if you like…staring me in the face. It’s like this:
We are supposed to ‘hone our craft’, to read books about our craft, to attend seminars regarding our craft, to participate on discussion boards centered about our craft. We are supposed to speak knowledgeably about our craft, and use words that indicate our knowledge about our craft (you know… The stuff that proves that you are knowledgeable):
“Each book in the series has its own story that opens up the changes to the MC as the events of the book pertain to them. In the first book, XX is unstoppable in his own sphere. He is assured, capable, brilliant, unflappable… But then a chink develops. Someone loves him and he confesses, however fleetingly, the fear that he only admits to himself when he is
drunkawake in the wee small hours of the morning with no one to hear him. The second book sees the widening of that chink until that moment where the unstoppable, unflappable hero is brought to a standstill and realizes that it is he who needs support and protection given by others . And the third book… well, that particular weakness is gone, but there is more. Oh – and the megatheme that over-arches the entire trilogy is the relationship between XXX and YYY.”
…And your listeners look at you and say, “Huh?” and write you off as a nut case.
All these things we are supposed to do to make ourselves better. Listen, learn, think… Admit it, they can be uncomfortable.
What if, for example, I crack open John Truby’s book The Anatomy of Story, which I bought recently, and discover that I have been going about my writing, which I love, which gives me a reason to value myself, which has made of many a wasteland of a bad day a time of enjoyment and increase, all the wrong way, that all I do is wrong or wrong-headed or just plain stupid and inept, and I will need to scrap everything? What if my attendance at seminars and workshops and critique groups leads me to the aghast realization that what I offer for others to read and enjoy not only will not sell, but will be judged laughable by “real” writers and thoughtful readers?
What if I conclude that I am a phony? That I only have a dream, and that having it doesn’t mean that it is any good? What if I might as well scrap things and resign myself to holding a place in the might-have-beens?
The Tragic Fate of a Might-Have-Been
…We are, after all, talking about insecurities, right?
We can linger and peer at them and choose not to venture away from our own little patch of endeavor. Goodness knows, the temptation is to just leave well enough alone.
The movie Notting Hill has a moment that, for me, expresses the fear of failure: Anna Scott, the famous star, has decided to submit an argument about why she should get the last brownie, which is supposed to be awarded to the person with the most pathetic story:
Today is the first Wednesday of the month, which means it is IWSG day. The once-a-month blog hop started by Alec Cavanaugh . IWSG = Insecure Writers’ Support Group We share our insecurities and support each other with empathy, sympathy or practical suggestions.
Check out this bit of writing and see what you think of it:
Pushing to his feet, The Hero drew a deep breath and lifted an eyebrow, his mouth twisting with disgust as he eyed the scene before him. The Hero stalked to the doorway. “So you say,” he growled. “Speaking for myself only, begging your pardon and hoping that you will take this as it is meant, I must take myself off! Good day!”
She clasped her hands at her breast and took a hesitant step toward him. “Ah, no!” The Heroine breathed. “You mistook me – or I misspoke – or something – anything at all! – but what does it matter, truly, when you and I have found love and I can indulge The Author’s excessive love of hyphens by putting four in one sentence?”
His steps dragged to a halt, his eyes lowered; The Heroine could see the fan of lashes against his brown cheek. Unwillingly, The Hero turned toward her, raised his eyes, and said, “She has never understood em-dashes and en-dashes…”
He spoke again, his voice easing into the thick silence. “For heaven’s sake, don’t you think The Author has stuffed this passage with enough of those hackneyed, stilted, repetitive word choices that bug her whenever she comes up with them to the point where she ruthlessly blue-pencils them all? D’you think she might let us go and do something enjoyable now that she’s made her point?”
“Oh, no,” The Heroine said, lifting her chin. “She has not yet used a semicolon; that is imperative!”
“Hey!” The Hero exclaimed. “Check it out! She just did!”
“At last!” The Heroine cried. “We are free!”
They turned and looked at the Author. “Well?”
“Oh, go on with you.,” she said with the hint of a grin. “You’ve made my point for me.”
This passage contains most of my favorite (for which read ‘deplorable’) habits. Turns of phrase, punctuation quirks, descriptions. They’re there. I have others, but these are the main ones.
I admit here and now that I have trouble shaking them. That is, I have no problem taking a blue pencil to them, but they will crop out, do what I may. (Y’know, Diana, your characters breathe a lot,” said an editor once…)
I think most authors have quirks that they have to fight. Kill them and they come back, rather like the hydra.
…and that’s another quirk I have: quoting mythology, literary references, things that either make people go glassy-eyed or else run away.
Vigilance takes care of them, usually, but I’m embarrassed to have them.
I think writers are insecure by nature. I just picked up Guy Gavriel Kay’s wonderful book, River of Stars, a fantasy of sorts, certainly alternate history set in almost-China of the Soong dynasty. A scene where a condemned man, dying at the command of a nothing of an emperor because he is loyal to that emperor, is offered a chance to escape and live out his days.
He thought about his friends, about wind in your face on a galloping horse, about waiting for dawn and battle, the beating of your heart then. The taste of good wine. Even bad wine sometimes. Bamboo woods, the sun through leaves, a bamboo sword. His mother’s hand in his hair.
It is beautifully written. Effortless, with the tinge of poetry. And of course, I have to compare it to my own efforts. How can I write that way? I can’t write that way. There is no beauty in my writing! Or so I thought. After all, if you’re an aspiring writer you have to be not-so-good…don’t you?
Do you? …well, do you?
I riffled through some things of mine and came upon this scene. It is toward the end of a story that needs to be written. The first man nearly betrayed his king. And now, defeated, he is waiting:
He stood in the darkened hallway as his son hurried away.
Heartbeats passed and he heard the change in the sounds around him. A cheer, suppressed, the rumble of wheels, clatter of bronze-clad weapons. More cheers, silenced again.
A clank…hushed voices. He raised his head, facing the tall, bronze-clad door, and waited.
A slit in the darkness widened to painful brightness that spilled across the pavement and lapped at his feet. Movement, merely sensed, solidifying into a form and a face that came in from the sun and moved toward him, gaining solidity and substance as it approached.
The voice seemed to come from the light. “Why?”
“I do not know.”
“That is not an answer.”
“It is the only one I can give.”
Silence, poised on a knife-edge of thought. He had the sense that if he chose to wait an eternity to answer, the listener would be there as well, waiting with a terrible patience.
He raised his eyes, met the dark gaze upon him, and went to his knees. “You have defeated me,” he said. “But grant me this credit: I never tried to fight you.”
“You considered it and took steps to do so in the teeth of my commands.”
He lowered his head. “Yes.”
“And you did not, though you had everything in place to do so. Why?”
“I could not.”
The man moved out of the light. “Why?”
He could see him clearly now. “You have asked and I have answered,” he said. “Why continue asking?”
The other folded his arms. “Because I do not like the answers you give, Holiness,” he said. “I want to know how we got to this place from where we were.”
He looked down at the floor, at his hands clasped on his knees. “End it, Sire,” he said. “I beg you. If you ever held me in regard, end it.”
I am not Guy Gavriel Kay. Or not just yet, but that isn’t too shabby, considering it’s a first draft. We don’t read and appreciate our own work nearly enough. That is a shame, since we are writing to give enjoyment (aren’t we?). It is not wrong to enjoy your own work or at least, having created something, it is perfectly all right to read it and admit that maybe you do have a spark of ability.
We’re all a bit insecure in that regard, I guess. Something to share and work on.
Today is the first Wednesday of the month, which means it is IWSG day. The once-a-month blog hop started by Alec Cavanaugh . IWSG = Insecure Writers’ Support Group We share our insecurities and support each other with empathy, sympathy or practical suggestions. 2011 NaNoWriMoAs others have commented, it is NaNoWriMo time. That time when we are expected to crank out fifty thousand words in thirty days. If you prefer numbers, that is 50,000 words in 30 days. (It doesn’t look quite so frightening when you are looking at numerals rather than words, does it?)
Well, speaking as an insecure writer, I will say that something that we all fear has come to pass. No, nothing tremendously horrific. I just somehow, in adjusting the spacing in my post (I tend to get grumpy about spacing) I managed to delete the whole thing.
I clawed back the beginning paragraph from the preview, and I am giving a brief run-down of my post. I have learned something as an insecure writer:
If you mess up your manuscript (or blog post) you can carry on.
Here is what I said:
We are supposed to put out 50,000 words. Will they be any good? Can we write under that much pressure? This is my third time participating in NaNoWriMo, and since my big problem with writing is to just let the ideas flow and make myself Wait to edit. In otherwords, initial output does not have to be perfect.
This is a lesson I have learned.
My first NaNo (2011) is now a book called Mourningtide:
Last Year’s effort will be coming out at some point in 2014. I am currently working on a fable or fairy tale involving a rather large crocodile that comes to stay with a struggling family.
I tried an experiment where I just wrote. I turned on my laptop first thing in the morning (morning composing seems to be the time when my work seems the best) and I typed with my eyes closed. I had contemplated a scene involving the local busybody who was going to come bustling over, encounter the croc, and after some humorous histrionics go tearing out of there mouthing threats. It came out nothing like that. It was, in fact, rather moving to see where the story went and how it went. And it was all from me.
I think there comes a point where we have to admit that we do have ability, that it is there to be tapped, that we have to nurture it and not be so bossy.
It isn’t hard, is it? We see others as gifted and capable. Why is it so hard to see ourselves so.
(And, this second time around with this @#$! post, it isn’t such a bad things to let things be, is it?)
We share our insecurities and support each other with empathy, sympathy or practical suggestions.
Then we have the obligatory Authors With Cats:
...one writing step at a time
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