Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Whatever Works

There are a lot of writing how-to books on the market. There are books on writing from the heart, books on writing the novel that lives inside you, books on plotting, characterization, word craft, synopsis writing, proposal writing.

As a reader and a writer, I applaud the concept of the how-to book. As a pragmatic person not given to believe there's only one way to do any particular thing, I'm doubtful any book can make a writer's path easier. The fact is, all the plotting, all the word crafting, all the writing from the heart can't create a book that's going to sell. While reading books about writing may clarify our writing strengths and weaknesses, it does not guarantee success because it only provides tools for a job that takes both craftsmanship, creativity and talent. Hand me a book about painting, a paint brush, canvas and paint and I will prove my point. I may be able to paint, but I'll never be able to paint well.

This is not meant to be a discouraging post, but rather one that will give you a practical look at a career that takes a myriad of abilities. An author must have a small measure of writing ability, a fair amount of story telling talent, a large amount of self discipline and an even larger amount of determination. Even if a writer sells her very first novel, there is no guarantee a second or third sale will quickly follow. To be a writer, one must be willing to commit to a career that has more ups and downs than the stock market and just as much uncertainty.

As I ready myself to mail in a proposal, I realize anew just how uncertain what I do is. Just because I sold a book yesterday does not mean that what I write will still be relevant today. My goal as a writer is always to press on through defeat, disappointment and disillusion. When I doubt myself, when others doubt me, when I wonder if I really have what it takes to be an author, I return to the root of who I am - a persistent, optimistic story teller who may not sell the next story, but who will keep writing. There is no magic bullet, no quick fix, no short cut. I work one plodding word at a time, one page, one paragraph, one idea. I don't use charts, graphs, or note cards. I do things my way with grim determination and an eye for detail. It works. For me.

The question is...all those writing books and conference workshops aside....what is going to work for you? How will you take your idea and lay it out on paper, craft it into something beautiful, something worth spending late nights reading? How will you take the rules, the devices, the words of wisdom and shape them into something that is uniquely yours?

1 comment:

Sabrina L. Fox said...

Hey, Shirlee, glad you're back and imparting your wisdom and encouragement. ;)