I write like
Jack London

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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Finishing What You Start

Right now, I'm struggling to finish the Bloodlines series. There's many reasons for my slowdown that I won't get into here today. I'm going to focus on one, and it's the one that afflicts all writers if we're honest with ourselves.

Fear.

Some call it Imposter Syndrome. Some call it Fear of Failure. What ever you call it, whatever it is, we all have it. It's the fear that the art we've made isn't any good.

And [deity of your choice] help us, we want that reassurance that we aren't wasting our time by spending hours scribbling or typing words. Are they good? Are they crap? Who knows? We sure as hell don't.

Newbies especially want that reassurance. And never is that more evident when one of them approaches me with a few pages or a couple of chapters and wants me to read them. My standard response has become "Show it to me when it's finished."

The general response is along what you would expect if I had asked to ass-fuck their grandmas with a dildo instead.

The few who get over being initially offended ask, "Why do you need to see the whole thing?"

Writing fiction is storytelling. I don't know if your story has the basics. A protagonist. A beginning, a middle, and an end. A certain je ne sais quoi that ensnares me regardless of your typos and bad grammar. A few pages of pretty writing tells me nothing.

That's like asking me what your bread tastes like when we are standing in your field of uncut wheat. It's meaningless and irrelevant.

Usually at this point, the newbies have the same look in their eyes that they would if I'd just hit their dog with my car, got out, and kicked the corpse a couple of times for good measure.

So I gently ask, "Have you finished anything? Another novel? A short story perhaps?"

I'm still waiting for my first yes. Hell, I'm still waiting for one of these newbies to send me their completed novel.

And I think that's the hardest part of this art form. The part that separates the real writers from the wannabes. You have to finish what you start. Sure, that first novel may be a total piece of shit (mine sure was), but so what?

The real question to consider--did you have fun doing it?

But first, you have to finish that story before you'll ever know if it was fun.

2 comments:

  1. If you take all the people who say they want to be writers, having all the ones who've actually finished something -- story or novel or whatever -- take a step forward will eliminate the vast majority. [nod]

    And along the same lines -- remember a couple-few years ago, when the... I forget the name of the technique (and it had an actual name) but where you write five books and then release them close together, bam-bam-bam-bam-bam, to maximize interest and discoverability? It sounded like a great idea to me, but I remember hearing various newbies who'd never published anything say, "Why would I want to waste my time writing five whole books without knowing if they're going to sell?" They'd rather write one, publish it, wait to see if it made them a lot of money, and if it did then they'd write the second. If it didn't, then obviously this writing thing wasn't working for them and they wouldn't waste their time continuing.

    I remember hearing/reading that from a number of people, and there were a bunch of nodding heads around them.

    Whether you want to use the [Whatever It Was] technique or not, I think it says something about a prospective writer if they're not even willing to consider it. If you don't write for fun, then why are you doing this? There are easier, much more sure ways to make money. Every successful writer I know used to write stuff just for fun, whether it was fanfic or original fiction or whatever. If you don't love to write, you shouldn't be doing it. Be business savvy, yes, but you have to start with a love of and pleasure in the writing itself. Without that, nothing else is going to work.

    Angie

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    1. Yeah, I say the same thing about golf. LOL

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