The Pyrenees---Southern France

The Pyrenees---Southern France

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Courageous? Stupid? Ever Hopeful?

           It takes courage to be a writer. It's either courage or stupidity. I vacillate between the two...

          It takes courage to not accept offers from writer friends. "We would be glad to look at your manuscript," they say. I'm worried that I'm just seeing the trees and not the forest. I'm afraid my friends will say, "That's a lovely birch," and "What a fabulous pine,"  and won't say--out of kindness--that the forest is a tangled mess of vines and rotting stumps.



          It takes courage (or stupidity) to send a manuscript to a fierce writer. An unflinching critic. A poet who knows the difference between something that's decomposing and something that's green and growing.

         It takes something--courage or stupidity or eternal optimism--to keep writing. To keep submitting even though the odds are not good. (Chicken Soup gets thousands of submissions for each anthology... and still I submit.) To keep revising and talking about the craft and believing in a piece.

         It's something. I'm just not sure what it is... 

          

27 comments:

  1. It is all of the above, with a whopping dollop of persistence and the knowledge that even if we don't make it big, we've at least made it real. You're making it real every time you write, revise, edit, submit, and repeat. The rest is luck and timing.

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    1. Lisa--I love that sentiment: we're making it real.

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  2. I hope to think it is optimism. :) Not stupidity. If we were stupid, then how could we write all these wonderful words we do. ;)

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    1. Margo--That's right! We're such brilliant writers, there's no way it's stupidity. ;)

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  3. I am watching my mailbox with hawkish concentration!

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    1. Shay--Hawkish? I've seen too many nature movies. I know what hawks do to their prey. ;)

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  4. Yeah, I think that sometimes, Sioux, we just can't help ourselves. :-) But I'm glad you keep at it. I also think that sometimes, the best writers are those who don't have any idea that they're wonderful writers!

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    1. Cathy--That's about all we can do, isn't it--we just have to keep at it.

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  5. I am going to bend your arm behind your back until you pass your ms to me. Diligence, persistence, hope...believing in yourself and learning as you go...that is why we do it. I just read that if you collect rejections, you are learning to perfect your craft. I agree.

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    1. Linda--Well, I've been collecting some lately. I agree as well. If we don't submit, we are stuck in a rut and will never get any better.

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  6. Just like with the lottery (not that I have any experience with it, of course)...you can't win if you don't play. Never give up hope. Carry on.

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    1. Val--If I got published as often as you win with lottery tickets, you could call me Jimmy Patterson.

      But that ain't never gonna happen...

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  7. I don't consider myself to be writer, just practicing. I seem to do better when I use the voice of my dogs. But, I do love my dogs ... Thank you for your kindness last week, it has been hard.

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    1. Kathy--I think we are ALL practicing. Sometimes my practice sessions are better than others.

      I'm sorry to say, but it'll be hard for a while. They carve such a place in our hearts, it takes a while to heal.

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  8. Everything you said is so well put. I am looking for a day when I can be stupid again and write some more.

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    1. Claudia--I hope that day for you comes soon.

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  9. I believe it takes courage which I seem to lack. I like to write but I've never tried to publish anything.

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    1. Pat--Just try it. You might be surprised.

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  10. You already have a significant accomplishment. YOU WROTE A BOOK! That's more than most people can say.

    I'm so glad you sent it to someone who can give you objective, honest impressions and feedback. That will be invaluable.

    Though I haven't read your ms, I'm betting all it needs is some judicious pruning. With time and persistence, your book will find the right home.

    Pat
    www.patwahler.com

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    1. Pat--Pruning? Or cutting it completely down and throwing it in the compost heap?

      Time will tell...

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  11. Hi Sioux,
    It was great to see you again and to feel your new lease on life.(via your new teaching position) Thank you for encouraging me to return to blogland. I wil seriously consider it. I'll think about the retreat too. Have to check with my boss. Keep being an enCOURAGEr!

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    1. Barbara--It was great to see YOU. I hope to see you in Columbia (Illinois).

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  12. Funny that I should say this, especially after all the times that people have told me not to do this, but please do not over-think it. Sharing one's writing with others is, a lot of the time, like handing your baby to someone (most literally), a stranger perhaps, and watching them toss it up in the air for laughs, all the while worrying that they're going to drop it. Add to this the fact that many of the previous comments have pointed out how much you have accomplished, as well as what it means to be persistent in your art, and it appears to be a no-brainer. You must go forth because this is all part of the process. But therein lies the issue, doesn't it? Trust your work, and know that while we can always improve on things, there is no end to trying to get it perfect. All the butterflies in your stomach about wanting more accurate feedback, rather than some kind of apologetic praise is a fair point. However, at the end of the day, if you know you did a good job, then you did a good job, and better is just a matter of you returning to it in a different frame of mind to see how else you can improve upon it. Personally, I've attempted all manner of short stories, poems, and my most recent and still ongoing attempt to write a book...this last one, I tried, and hammered out an entire "chapter" and the outline of the whole book, and how it would all fit in. When I went back and read it, I didn't like it at all. So, I burned it, literally. Maybe there was something there. Maybe I've lost some truly precious lines that would have been remembered fondly by readers. Maybe I saved myself all manner of public embarrassment. But, as a creator, the most difficult ability I must call upon to exercise is to destroy when something is not up to the standard that I set for myself. If I wanted to be serious about it, which I do because a book is a huge deal, I need to be happy with what I put on paper. Anything less is well, good enough for the blog...which is far from consumption-worthy by most readers, and even though it is "published", may never see the light of someone else's day. Courage, Stupidity or being ever Hopeful? It's all and none of these things, all at once. Confused? Good. Because just ignore this drivel and get your show on the road! For what it's worth, you've got me in your corner!...not to mention so many wonderful well-wishers as well!

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    1. Rohin--You burned your writing? To a writer, that's against the law. It might not please you now, but later, with new eyes, you might see something of value in it.

      This manuscript/piece is far different from anything else I've written. The writing of it healed me in a couple of ways so even if it's deemed a pile of poop, I got some benefit from the process.

      I think you should try NaNoWriMo--National Novel Writing Month. The idea--write a novel in one month (November)--ensures that your internal editor is banished, because you don't have time to worry if the writing is good when your primary goal is to get 1,600 + words down every day.

      Think about it...

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    2. Sioux -- Yes, I am a bit of a hothead like that. But, I trust my ability to be able to do a better job of things the next time around. This comes from countless times where I have typed things up, in the three to four thousand word count, and then lost everything due to a computer crash, and quite simply, because I forgot to save my work. Far less frequent now, this habit is, but mostly thanks to the "autosave" feature on most word processors.

      I can understand how the manuscript in question helped to heal something within, and therein the supreme difficulty you are having with the decision you're trying to make. At the risk of offering meaningless advice, now that you have it out on paper, you've already passed the first hurdle, which to me is the biggest. The rest of what you believe may get in your way, that is just a matter of navigating the waters and passing through any storms to get yourself what you want to achieve. I'm reminded of the end of the movie, The Truman Show, where Jim Carrey's character overcomes his biggest fear, only to discover that what he suspected was right all along. Trust me, it'll be fine. And, if you don't mind an amateur eye going through it to offer you any feedback, I wouldn't mind taking a look, if that will help break this tension, so to speak.

      I might just take you up on NaNoWriMo, finally. You have mentioned this to me previously, and I remember being all "Yes, yes, I will..." only to not end up doing it. I am going to look through the rules of this because I'm not sure that the ideas I have in my head at the moment, sparked ever since you first mentioned it, will qualify. This time around, I want to do this. Besides, if its free flow writing without the editor-in-the-head, I should be able to meet the word count daily. Certainly thinking about it. When I do decide to do it, I will let you know, and certainly post about it.

      Thank you again for your encouragement, on this post, where I thought I would attempt the same for you, but ended up getting more of the same pour moi. Like I said, if you wanted someone to give it a look-see, I am more than up for it.

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    3. Rohin--One, I'm excited you're considering doing NaNoWriMo. A bit of advice. Do not use any contractions. "Do not" is better than "don't" because it's double the words. ;)

      (You can always go back in your revising, after you've hit 50,000 words, and changed the stilted language to something more flowing.)

      Two, thanks for the offer. I had my writing group look at it in its first form, than scrapped the whole thing and pretty much started from scratch. This is the third or fourth version, depending on how you look at it. If my beta reader determines it's worth anything, I'll do some more revising and try to find another publisher that might be a good fit.

      I don't think it would be the kind of fare you enjoy. There's lots of men-bashing, the color of the language sometimes matches the color of the sky, and it's definitely slanted toward the tastes of women. In other words, it's chick lit. However, if it seems like the manuscript is judged by objective eyes to be better than a pile of poop, and if you still want to look at it, I would be glad to send it to you sometime... assuming you have a thick skin. ;)

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  13. Love that forest metaphor! Very poetic yet practical.

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