Are you a writer and if so, why do you write and what do you write? Are you a starry eyed reader who thinks that the writing life is an exclusive society of posh, well to-do people who revel in success? These are serious questions you must ask yourself if you dare to write. I didn’t ask myself these questions at first and my awakening was not so much rude, as it was extremely educational.
The following quote is from Fantasy writer, R.A. Salvatore:
There’s way too much pain in this business (writing) for anyone who doesn’t have to write. I always tell beginning writers, “If you can quit, then quit. If you can’t quit, you’re a writer.”
~ R.A. Salvatore
Salvatore’s advice is sage. In my experience, I’ve learned that writing will confound you, make you angry, depress you and attempt to drive you insane. However, if none of the above puts you into a psychiatric hospital then it can also be quite rewarding. Though if you’re looking for fame and fortune, then writing isn’t likely to be your ticket to it.
Writing is a discovery and a continuous learning process. If you stop learning, stop reaching for that forever elusive perfection (The Perfect Story) which writers always pursue then you’re not writing. Writing is an exploration which serves to help the author discover things about themselves which they never realized or ignored, and also serves as an expression of the author’s thoughts and emotions which both entertain and inform the reader. If you’re extremely lucky you will accomplish all of this, and do it well. If you’re like most of us, you will attempt it and maybe your readers won’t notice your mistakes.
While pursuing your goals as a writer, it’s important to learn and apply the proper mechanics which all writing instructors drill into you. Rigid rules which when followed will help you to produce fair, if not great work. However, it’s important to understand that writers often break those rules by following them and therein is the trick…the story itself.
Your story is the means by which you can break the rules successfully once you’ve mastered the rules in the first place. Confusing? Yes, it is. Now you can get a glimpse into the mania of a writer. In my humble opinion, what you write isn’t too important as long as it’s good. So if you write poetry, essays, short stories, novels or all of the above, no matter what genre make it good. I won’t list the rules which make a good story in this blog post (perhaps in a future post), because that is a lengthy list, and not the purpose of this posting.
Every writing instructor I’ve encountered on the collegiate level (for one reason or another), looks down at genre fiction from the lofty height of their literary perches. These professors often expound that the substance of anything outside of literary fiction is mostly garbage. While is some cases this may be true, the same can also be said about literary fiction.
DON’T GIVE UP YOUR DREAMS OF WRITING GENRE FICTION, IF THAT IS YOUR PASSION!
There is an audience for your work, and you can succeed. Writing instructors are paid to pontificate about the higher quality of writing that goes into literary fiction, as they expound upon the merits of avoiding genre fiction. Let the haters hate, because that’s what they do, and they’re quite good at it.
If you choose to write genre fiction (like me), make sure you plot out your stories very carefully and don’t get caught up in the nuances of the world you create. Your story must have a human element in order to reach the reader on a human level. This can be very challenging and (like myself), you will undoubtedly miss this mark at least once in your career. Not every story an author writes will resonate with every reader, even though that should be the writer’s goal.
Should the author be embarrassed?
Should they hide themselves away like a pariah?
Not if they learn from it. Some element within your writing must touch upon what we know to be true to the human condition. A former instructor of mine gave me that advice and I ignored her on a story I wrote…let’s just say the next critic was downright rude. I took what criticism had merit to heart and chocked the rest up to their disdain for commercial fiction.
If nothing and no one can dissuade you from your passion for writing, then welcome to a career of pain, suffering and blessed rewards!
Writing in and of itself is no easy endeavor, and requires quite a large chunk of your soul to achieve. So, no matter what area of writing you practice, (from business writing, poetry to essays to screenwriting to prose, short stories, novels or flash fiction) I believe that it is important, and makes a contribution to the fold, at least on some level. Quality writing isn’t exclusive to literary fiction; it can be found in all genres. And what’s most important is that readers are given what all readers want…A GOOD STORY!