Thursday, January 27, 2011

writers' advice

Two things happened today of writerly note:

The first was being struck by a sentence in Joy Cowley's memoir Navigation. She says: 'We [writers] can pare sentences into splinters so fine that they enter visceral organs without pain and the reader only detects their presence much later.' Pg 11 and 12

I thought YES! That's exactly what I strive for: to write in such a way that the reader does not notice the writing; does not see the cogs or the pullies used to create the illusion.

That is what is propelling me at the moment with my back and forth, going over and over a chapter until I am feeling that all who read it will be taken in by the magic. I never allow my actors to go front of house in costume or makeup. They must keep the secret of the stage contained therein. To show the punters a look at the performers outside of the the set means that for all, the enchantment is spoiled.

So it is with my stories: typos, continuity problems, jarring word choice or awkward syntax – these are the sins I work hard not to allow in the final product.

The second writerly realisation came about while I was doing what I do daily which is check out Maureen Chrisp's fabulously helpful blog and Melinda Szymanik's honest and helpful blog, both with links and assertive comments. I clicked on their links in a vague hope that I might find the magic key to making being a writer an easy occupation. I read the links which linked to other links and I thought. Pah! I know all this already.

Yes I do. I have been a 'real writer' since 1995. As my husband cheekily reminds me, I am an award winning writer. Two of my books have many times been on the best sellers list.

So why have I gone after all this advice from editors and agents and writers and wanna-be published writers? Because I have yet to learn to trust myself and my talent.

The real 'trick' for me at this stage in my career? Write. Read and write. And revise, revise, revise.

Thankfully, I do not have to get my work 110% perfect before I send it to an agent or editor. I already have those relationships (not by fluke or chance but by hard apprenticeship) so I can trust them to point out gaps I was too blinded to see.

From now on, I will stop searching for the key to making writing a novel easy because there isn’t one. Writing is, like all art, difficult and requires sacrifice and blood, sweat and many tears.

I will consider the links offered by my generous writer friends but only for my students who are still learning and growing and find these snippets honey to the bees.


Pen said...

Lovely post TK.

It's encouraging and eye-opening to see that even "real" published writers struggle to have confidence in their writing talent. And like us "not-quite-there" writers, even they are not immune to editing, editing, editing and revising, revising revising!

maureen said...

Hi Tania,
Jane Friedman wrote a post today for Writer Unboxed about the theme of your blog post...

Sometimes I read an article and say to myself I know that already...and then my conscience pricks me and says...yup but do you practice it.... I need all the reminders I can get...LOL!