Monday, April 19, 2010

Don't be so "serious"

Laura Miller addresses why writers shouldn't strive to be "serious," and makes other helpful noises from one reader to all those writers out there.

In another essay, I found out that the phrase "Writing is rewriting" is apparently an "old saying." While I agree with the sentiment, I can't say I've ever heard the phrase before, new, old or otherwise. Otherwise, this essay is full of good stuff to think about when editing. I know I mentioned recently that the "literary types" are horrible at teaching novel writing (they're more of if you build it, they will come which is fine when you're Kevin Costner, but when you're me? Not so much).  So I've been hunting down novel writing instruction from the genre people, which is better but not as good as what you'll find at the bottom of the article on editing.  Screenwriters.  I should have already known that screenwriters-turned-novelists are the gold standard for teaching structure in long-form storytelling.  Because they are.  And the only teacher I've ever had who was willing to tackle teaching novel writing was a screenwriter-turned-novelist.

But before the writer gets to that, she stars off the essay by listing all the things she was "before she was a writer," which makes me sad and frustrated. Lately I've been thinking about my own "before I was a writer" list of jobs and, honestly, I'd rather just get to the damn writing part. I'm coming up on some "free time" between semesters. I could spend it visiting friends and family, or I could get the damnwriting done.

I recently had an acquaintance who took a week off of work and in ten days she kicked out a 50,000 word first draft of the novel she's been toying with for months. It's ... well, it's many things, including crazy, but it's also inspiring.

I too have notes and notes and notes drafted for two different popular novel projects. Two weeks, fourteen days, 70,000 words between the end of April and the middle part of May.  I'd be crazy to do it. I'd be crazy not to do it. Better to do the damnwriting than keep adding bizarre jobs to my "before I was a writer" list.

Highly Recommended