Friday, March 23, 2012

Do you have what it takes to write ?

Every day I ask the above question and I ponder this. Then I shake my head and yell, "Hell yes." Then I buckle down and work. Yes, it is work. Just, because I'm at home I take this as seriously, as if I went out to work and sat in an office. I sit at my desk, I run over scenes, sometimes I talk to my characters, yes don't catch me in one of those moments, because I must look like a complete lunatic. I read through my writing and I try to analyse my characters motivation, goal and conflict. Then, I try to make sure that the scene is moving along at a good pace by showing the action of the scene. There is a lot of free thinking but a lot of careful planning.

Suzanne Collins talks about her routine for writing;

“I grab some cereal and sit down to work as soon as possible. The more distractions I have to deal with before I actually begin writing, the harder focusing on the story becomes. Then I work until I’m tapped out, usually sometime in the early afternoon.
“If I actually write three to five hours, that’s a productive day. Some days all I do is stare at the wall. That can be productive, too, if you’re working out character and plot problems. The rest of the time, I walk around with the story slipping in and out of my thoughts.”

I can totally empathise with her comments, if I'm distracted it's a nightmare trying to get back into where you were, because you step out of character and lose the sense of where the hell you were. I also agree there are many times when simply sitting and thinking, although it may seem wasted time,sometimes you own mind is working and solving problems for you. The brain is an amazing piece of machinery, essentially a muscle, but oh so much more and even when you are not necessarily trying to solve a problem the brain can come up with solutions. It's almost as if it's so fined tuned into your thoughts, it can anticipate what you need. I believe. Amazing !

Anyway last night I was so excited to be going to an authors book reading/signing at a local bookstore, but I came away feeling somewhat let down. I don't know what bothered me the most, the lady's disillusionment with the publishing industry or her own conflict in deciding to continue to write or pursue another adventure entirely. One, I suspect that is more profitable ??

To me and I may well be alone in this, when you are standing there, you should have a duty as an author to put on a face, providing encouragement and inspiration ?? I know the world can be grey and gloomy, we all know the roller coaster ride for most writers,  and I certainly don't sit here writing thinking, well, one day I'll be a millionaire. But if your disillusioned, DONT WRITE GIVE IT UP - do something else. Don't stand there debating the dilemma because your not earning enough through writing books, don't sit on the fence and moan about it, especially whilst waving your book, hoping someone will buy it?

Is this just me??? After watching a new writer Liz Michalski  attend her first book launch (over a year ago), her book was called,  Evenfall. I remember watching her and studying her stance, the way she dressed, her carefully composed address to the audience. It was personal, she gave a small rendition of her life and what had led her to this moment. She then talked about her book and how she had been inspired to write it, adding a little of her journey in getting published. I sat there with goosebumps, I remember feeling and still feel, Oh god I will never be able to do that, she's incredible.  She was inspiring and I felt so excited for her. I really was in awe seeing someone achieve their goal of having their story in print! It's amazing.

Am I being too hard, too naive therefore when I listen to an author who really has lost the glow of why she is writing, bogged down with realism. I believe if you decide to write, it must be all or nothing and not necessarily for monetary gains because your setting yourself up for failure right there. But this disillusionment is not new. In my very short life, so far, this was the second occasion where I really felt there are writers out there that have become completely jaded by the experience so much so that they question whether to pursue another career.

 The first lady writer was someone who I paid to critique my work,she was a published author and albeit my MS must have been when I look back,less than desirable,but her own story, her reference to her journey, was so melancholy. If I had taken to heart the fact that being isolated makes you depressed, then I think I would have given the game up right then and there, maybe that was her goal.
I will say, I think that writing suits perhaps certain people, with perhaps certain psychological traits. Meaning, people who perhaps are more inclined to be socially introverted, not necessarily shy but people who choose to opt out socially. These people I suspect are like hibernating animals they only come out when all the writing is done or the need for company or caffeine supersedes anything else.

 Yes, there are days when  it really SUCKS, days when you QUESTION YOUR VALUE as a writer and wonder if you'll ever write one sentence that someone will love. But, and I'm not sure if every writer feels the same, I find the art of creating the story so exciting and exhilarating that for me that is what it's all about. If I stopped being able to imagine how my characters look, what they think and how they dress and what drives them to make the choices they make, then I would give up.

Working in isolation is for me, necessary, but I belong to 2 critique groups I hope to send some chapters to friends for feedback I have also sent chapters to another lady who specialises in critiquing. I belong to several writing forums on line. I read and share my opinions there, surrounding myself with other writers. I think that it's vital when you are starting out to have that connection with like minded people to gain support and maybe that helps when those dark days of depression lurk. And I really love a good old knees up with the girls, it helps to keep me going.

But going back to the book signing from last night, you have to picture an idealistic virgin in the world of writing where everything is full of promise and excitement. That's me, bright and shiny, willing to believe she can get through anything that other friends, writers, publishers or agents may throw at her. However, going to a book signing and listening to an author go on about how she is not sure whether she wants to continue to write because the publishing world is so narrow- minded and difficult, just threw me for six.,

I'm sorry, but her story is there for all to read. It's in print, someone has taken the risk  and published her work. I have a copy, I didn't want to know that she's torn between writing or focusing on her company that specialises in energy savings devices. My mouth honest to god dropped. I hope that if one day I was lucky enough to stand there before a live audience talking about my book, that would dominate my entire conversation.

 I'm sorry if I seem mad, but honestly in today's climate where it seems anyone can get a book published via Amazon  and I know because I have. It was awful, my first ever go at writing a short story, completely inexperienced in the world of self-publishing and yet it's there for anyone to purchase, but I cringe because the writing is awful. I do whole heartily agree that self-publishing is a platform to allow so many writers to fly, but I also agree with the author I met last night that it's killing the book and the need for the wonderful cosy bookstores that sell them. Everything, is becoming mass produced and although it allows an enormous amount of books to be published, it seems the flood gates have been opened, allowing some really awful, horrendous books to seep through.

I guess I'm being idealistic, the author who shall remain nameless was being honest, the world of publishing is becoming a members-only club. Which makes it's virtually impossible for new writers to get published. As for me, if I focused on that goal alone and believed that, then I would have to seriously question why am I bothering. So I file it away,  I don't want to think about that, because I have so many ideas for books, not just this one and I want to keep going. I want to keep believing that if you work hard enough, believe passionately enough, then one day you'll get there.  But it was very deflating to listen to an author who has 4 books published to her name, seem so disillusioned, it made me very sad. But writers have to make a living and when they don't earn enough and the experience for them has lost it's appeal, then they become teachers, real-estate agents or energy efficient consultants.

I hope that writers keep writing or where will the world be without brilliant books to read and stories to share and inspire all of us?

“Books are the carriers of civilization. Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill. Without books, the development of civilization would have been impossible. They are engines of change (as the poet said), windows on the world and lighthouses erected in the sea of time. They are companions, teachers, magicians, bankers of the treasures of the mind.

Books are humanity in print.”
Barbara W. Tuchman