Friday, June 09, 2006

Going it alone

Writers spend a lot of time working solo: writing, researching, revising, copyediting, proofreading, ruminating, observing life. There's no other way. We're often told to hang in there, to persevere, to develop a tough outerskin because, let's face it, few of us are going to sell our first manuscript. (Hardly a news flash, am I right?)

Recently someone remarked that perseverence alone may not do the trick. The comment set me back a bit. Hold on a minute, I thought, perseverence is the key to getting it all done despite the many obstacles (lack of ready income, skepticism of friends and family, guilt over burning yet another dinner or forgetting to pick up the kids...the list goes on and on). The underlying point of the statement centred on honing the craft. If, for instance, a writer sends out manuscript after manuscript, only to have each one rejected, the writer's lack of success may not be due to inherent defaults in the stories themselves but in the writer. Perhaps she's making the same mistakes over and over again and doesn't realize it.

I grant this regrettable situation may exist. But don't you think, even at this early stage when most of us are going it alone without the help of an agent or editor, we are nevertheless improving the more we write? I read widely. I learn something from each book I read, about plot, characterization, voice. I can't believe that I will fail to evolve as a writer. Already I want to go back to my recently completed manuscript and tighten it up. Blimey, it will never be perfect.

As to going it alone, are we really? We have our loved ones' steady encouragement, our critique partner's cheerleading—and I promise to finish Chapter 10 in the next couple of days, Imogen—as well as our blogging buddies.

We can't help but evolve as writers. It's as natural as the urge to put pen to paper.



Blogger Annie said...

You are so right, Eva - we are all very lucky to have the people who support us, as well as each other. It's too easy to take these things for granted.

As for improving the more we write - I totally agree. When I look back at some of my old stuff, I see a marked difference in the way I write now. And you can never stop learning, be it through reading novels, instructional techniques, blogging comments, or just by simply conversing with others, listening and observing.

However, trying to do all those things at once can lead to nasty accidents. For instance, today I was lying in the garden soaking up the sun, reading an instructional guide, whilst comparing its comments with my latest m/s and a novel I'd been reading, when my neighbour called to me over the fence, at the same time as I noticed a bee coming in my direction and heard my car alarm start screeching. Flapping my book at the bee, shouting a hello to my neighbour, and turning my car alarm off, I then observed that the guide had disintegrated, my neighbour had been stung by the bee and my m/s had blown away. Casting all those difficulties aside, I ran upstairs to look at our blog, saw your post and thought, ah ha, here's the perfect excuse to write a load of drivel about a totally untrue series of events.

Happy writing day!

7:41 pm  
Blogger Stacy Dawn said...

LOL Annie...I swear I come here just for the uplifting pile of crap you always deliver...(hmmm, rereading that I should clarify that it is a compliment.)

Eva--the age old question of a single tree in a large forest for is that not what we are? Though there are people around us, supporting us, encouraging us, we are a lone tree left to actually do the work ourselves (hmmm, up comes the question of what kind of work does a tree actually do?) My oblivious example notwhithstanding, you are right...if we don't get our butts in the chair and the story on paper, no one else is going to do it for us...but without the encouragement of friends to kick said butts our it would be that much harder to get into the chair in the first place.

What a load of drivel that was....must reload caffeine intake

10:06 pm  
Blogger India said...

The fact is we're all just here as part of a therapy programme for Annie. It's a totally selfless act of charity...

8:05 am  
Blogger Annie said...

Thank you for your kind remark, Stacy, I shall know where to come when I want someone to recommend my writing - you know that nice bit they put on the cover that says: 'This is the crappiest book I have ever read'. As for the job of a tree - well, that's obvious - they supply writers with endless amounts of paper - they just don't know it.

You said you wouldn't tell anyone, Imogen.

4:17 pm  

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