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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

You're a Real Writer If... (originally posted 09-12-11)

You're a real writer if...
I hate sentences that start that way.

Or worse, "Real writers always..." or "Real writers never..."
There are books or speakers who present themselves as being the all-seeing eye into the path to becoming a "real writer". They mumble to themselves, dance around a fire, and then poof, smoke comes out and they proclaim this, this is what you need to do.

Aghhh... the sound of me vomiting a little in my mouth. I know, I know. It’s so lady-like.

I've never come across one of these books that has it all down.

Now, there are books out there that help you get started or help you when you have a hard time, or even better, they help you when you think your work is just oh-so-perfect, but none of your friends will even tell you the truth. Those books I like. They tend to be honest.

But if you come across a phrase that says something like, "All writers do. blank, blank, blank..." - then walk. Drop the book and run out.

Because, as many other writers will tell you, all writers don't blankety, blank, blank or hoop-de-doo or even vo-de-oh-doe-doe. These people are up to something. They are your obstacle. They will get in the way of your writing because they will whisper in your ear and tell you that you don’t know what you’re doing because you’re not one of them, you’re not one of the published few, you don’t know what you’re doing and they do. They are going to show you how. They are going to show you which writing fork to use and when to use your comma napkin.

But what is it worth to you? What has it done for you? So what if you walk around with patches on your elbows. So what if you use an Underwood Standard Portable, Remington Model 12 like Faulkner? That’s not what’s going to make you sound like him and likely it’s not what’s going to make you sound like you.

Here’s a fact, there’s only one thing we writers all do – we write. And ever that’s not true. Go talk to Stephen Hawking and see how many times he sharpened his pencil. And yet, he's written books galore.

The thing I'm getting across here is don't let these people get to you and prevent you from writing.

You're a writer, so write. Read these other people with a grain of salt and a whole grinder of pepper. Maybe read them for ideas of how to get over your slump. But don’t read them as absolutes.

I've heard tell that Amy Fisher and Sarah Palin both wrote books. I'm fairly certain that whatever process that got them from A to Z (maybe actually learning their ABC's? - yikers, switch the ring!) is not identical to what I'm going through. Likely it won't be like you either. But don't let that stop you. Keep writing. Keep telling stories. Try ways that worked for other people and, if in the words of Janet Fitch, "It was boring", go on to something else. Just keep moving forward. At least, you're going somewhere.

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