Friday, January 25, 2013

Writing In Public.



The idea that writing is somehow the intellectual property of the already successful or those whose smiling face adorn the jackets of published hardcovers is a thought that has doomed many a writer. How can it be that someone who isn’t a writer one day wakes up and is a writer? How is it this person who was not a writer could be worthy of the attention given to writing? I’ve never met a writer who didn’t start out being in love with books. That love affair is something akin to worship so for a person who is not a writer to decide to write is something akin to heresy.

Good book propelled me to write better but bad books began the writing process for me. I would read a book and think to myself, “Hell, I could do that well with it” and then wonder how I would have done the book better. Clearly, unless you are Asimov you are thinking of making one of his works better, but there were many lesser authors who I thought I could help, and far too many I thought ought to have kept their day job.

There was a point in my life when I was very broke, living in an apartment, living in a strange town, and just beginning to write.  I began to write for myself, at first, and because I didn’t think my writing would ever amount to anything I didn’t keep much of what I had written. But there was a story that I kept pecking away at, kept hammering away at and kept rewriting until I thought there was an off chance that it wasn’t terrible. I decided to show it to a friend of mine and even though he was impressed with the ideas and the concept, he pointed out some grammar and style flaws that would have doomed the thing in tenth grade English classes.

I bought a book on grammar and style and started trying to figure out what was wrong with each sentence I wrote and what I could do to help it. Some of them, I did realize where doomed structures, built on sand and painted with lead paint. Others were salvageable. Like anyone who wants to write I learned to rewrite.  And after that I learned to rewrite again.

I had been writing for about five years before I ever posted anything online. Until that time I was pestering a few friends but people who care about you will be careful with your feelings, mostly, and I wanted to know what total strangers thought of my writing. The reviews I received were mostly good, with some style problems but it was a start. I got an email from a stranger who said what I had written had made her cry and that was a feeling I will never forget.

The first writing site I joined was a pleasant surprise. I had never had anyone really like the way I wrote but suddenly there were people who did. Through the years I have come to realize there are some people that will never like what I write but there are people who always will. Those are the people I write for because those are the people who like what I write when I write for me.

The fear of going public with writing is a real fear. Writing is magic and no one wants to discover their efforts aren’t going to levitate feelings or saw emotions in half.  Yet if there isn’t ever a public showing a writer truly will not know if there has been a rabbit pulled out of the hat, to the delight of the readers, or perhaps something far more miraculous. 

This is a personal story. All writing is personal to me and all writers, great and unknown, are my breathern. Writing is my one true form of creativity and the only thing I have ever owned that I pulled out of the Universe with my own effort, even though I owe many more writers out there many thanks for their help.

What you do is worthy. It is worth the effort to package it up and display it to the world. The world needs it. The world wants it. What you have written is made up of the same stuff as stars and no matter how tiny the light seems to you at this time, someone out there will stare at it with wonder.

If I knew nothing of you at all I would still give you these words to take with you if only they might inspire you to write. But I do know you. You would not be reading this if I did not. And to you I give these words as a gift that is nearly empty for you do not need anything from me. You already have it all. You possess within a power greater than any human being might be able to give any other.

What you have within is made of the same stuff as the stars and the universe, and everything that there ever was, ever will be, and is.

Write.

Take Care,
Mike

10 comments:

  1. Dammit Mike, you made me cry...again :)

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  2. Beautiful essay with a deep truth for writers. Thanks! --Cara

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  3. As a kid I read tons of books schlepped from the library, but from high school on it was mostly technical stuff. Oh, I dutifully squeezed in The Exorcist and the Godfather, but mostly stuff I had to, or as often wanted to, learn.

    Then I was seduced by the sexy, sultry, powers of Ms Internet.

    Once addicted, I found myself reading all sorts of things, from all levels of writers/authors. The funny thing is I would read about subjects I found only mildly interesting, if the writing was good. That’s what keeps me coming back here.

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  4. This should be a primer for all new writers.

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    Replies
    1. Remember Tex, you need nothing from me.

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