I was going through some writing that I had half-way finished last year before the trouble hit me hard and I dealt with a car accident, a move, and illness. As I read my the words, I had a shock. What I wrote last year was on a different level than what I am writing now. I could see where I had gone off track and could delete entire paragraphs. It was a break-through.
I may be a talented writer, but it has taken ten years for me to get there. This included two years of not being able to write during my cytoxan/prednisone phase. I could drift back into the hallucinations and memory problems, but if you want to talk about what I went through, I have a book for that–In The Shadow of Death. I wrote this while on some heavy duty medications for Wegener’s Granulomatosis.
What I am talking around is that a good writer–writes. If she doesn’t write than she doesn’t get competent, even though she is the most talented writer in the world. As Shakespeare wrote, “Therein lies the rub.”
But writing every day is not enough. I learned this when I was writing for a now dead online magazine called Helium.com. I had to write with them for a couple of years before I became smart enough to know that I needed some pointers. I had read every book I could find on writing story. Some of it just didn’t make sense. You see, I didn’t know the lingo then. Before I studied story elements, I had this big myth in my head about the instinctive writer. I thought that I could have the entire story inside my head. I should be able to see and write all. This was before I realized the techniques involved with dialog, description, character, and plot.
I was naive.
Why I had this idea that I could just write stories when it took me years to master poetry is beyond my comprehension now. Yes, I am also an instinctive poet, but I have studied the craft extensively. It has made my abilities better. I am still not a Master Poet. But I console myself with a thought that if you reach master status then you stagnate because there is nothing else to learn.
So the point here is that good instruction on writing story is very hard to find. What first put me on the path to writing good competent stories was when I went to Dean Wesley Smith. You might remember seeing his name on several Star Trek novels and others. He has been writing a long time and also makes a living at it.
I went to him because of some recommendations of other writers like Sarah A Hoyt, who had taken his workshops. As someone who knows, fiction writing classes are hard to find. The good ones are expensive. I went to Dean because I couldn’t find the information on my own. He didn’t disappoint. I learned that when you are writing that million words, you need to write smarter. You need to know important things like how to put the five senses in your writing. Just that one instruction changed my writing from one-dimensional to a rich tapestry.
Yes, writing is a craft. Yes, we need to write a lot to gain proficiency. What I have found as I dive into the world of writing is that every day is a challenge. Every day I learn something new. Every day. I don’t get bored.