All too often I hear the refrain "if you're not writing you're not a true writer". As if word production in itself is some magical requirement that awards the participant the mantle of a writer.
It's not about word production, or how many stories you sold or how much money you make or how high your platform is. It's about what's true in your heart. And that not only goes for writing but any endeavor you begin. I'm just putting this in the context of writing because, well, I'm a writer. It's what I know best.
When I was starting out I was in the same place most newbie writers are when they begin. I doubted I was a writer (though I wanted to be one) because I wasn't writing every day -- although I was writing sporadically. It is only with the passage of time and some experience under my belt that I can look back on those days and realize, Yes, Virginia, I was a writer.
Wow. Kinda cool. And I'm still one today. Who'd a thunk it?
You see, if I don't write another word for the rest of my life I will still be a writer. Nothing can change that. Ever. And that's the power of writing, of believing in yourself, of making the necessary sacrifices to get better and better by almost immeasurable increments (and sometimes measurable) until you reach a point where people not only want to read your work they want to PAY you for it.
Wow. Kinda cool. Who'd a thunk it?
When new writers begin there's a lot of starting and stopping. A lot of half-finished chapters and half-baked ideas that swirl around in your head like mashed bananas in a Cuisinart. But if you stick with it, if it's something you really want, then with time comes a professional measure of maturity. There are still half-finished chapters and half-baked ideas and a lot of starting and stopping....but you view it in the context of a larger framework. To wit: It's part of the process of story creation. You think Hemingway didn't write an occasional sentence that made his stomach turn? Joyce? Shakespeare? Get real. Of course they did. We all do. That's part of the Mephistophelian deal you enter into when you take on this profession. You're going to appall yourself at times with what you put on the page. The way you combat that is by having the cold-blooded passion to recognize the mistake, correct it, and move on. In other words, view it in the larger context of story creation.
I believe writing is first and foremost an art form. There are very good, technically brilliant, writers out there. But it is the artist who will often be remembered. I'm not arguing this is right or proper and I'm not arguing technicality doesn't have its place in the story. Joyce broke all the rules with Ulysses, but it's still a technically brilliant novel. No, I'm arguing that's just how it is. Art often trumps technical perfection. That's the creative dynamic in operation. That's the human quality.
And writing, just like everything else, is all about being human. Period.
Wow. Kinda cool.
Who'd a thunk it?