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Posts Tagged ‘writing myths’

Today, without much ado, I direct you to the post I had been hinting to for the Write Over The Edge collaborative blog. This is my take on four common writing myths. Read it here: http://writeovertheedge.blogspot.com/2013/06/writing-myths.html

But since I am taking the time to type a few extra words, allow me to type a few more. As I sit this morning with my laptop trying to finish up the last thirty pages of the edit of my novel, I am struck by how the book has developed. Many times we try to force a label onto a character. Oh, he’s a pacifist. Oh, she’s a gymnast. Oh, they’ll be a couple. And starting off with a concept of who the  characters are and where we will take them is always good. But when we prize realism more than our labels often our characters guide us to places we never knew we could go so convincingly. I did not set about to portray Stockholm. I set about to portray a logical course of events in a young character’s life. But they led me into a perfect description of Stockholm Syndrome (where I had no intention of going). Now there is a deeper meaning to the book, one that is astoundingly natural. My pre-labeling of ‘pacifist’ for the character, in its forced manner, only left him looking weak. I had to allow the character to grow beyond the label.

So start with labels, but free yourself to discover the characters as you write. You never know what brilliant idea they will guide you towards.

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Well patient writers, those who have been following this blog waiting for me to return to useful pieces of advice, this is finally a post for you. Later this week on a collaborative blog I will be discussing four writing myths (check out my posts on Fridays: http://writeovertheedge.blogspot.com/). Until then I would like to highlight one of the myths: ‘You have to make a living to be a real author.’

This is a standard that can easily bash in our writing-filled heads as we try to achieve something that is, well, nearly impossible for beginners. Unless a miracle occurs or you are one of the lucky ones with connections (both of which are valid possibilities), a writing career is not born overnight. Nor should it be.

I could tell you to go back and look at my beginning blog posts to see how far I have come. I won’t. Please don’t. It is plain embarrassing. You can watch the same type of growth in my unpublished stories and my published novels throughout the years. Growth came in failures, in successes, and through a lot of learning. It came in bad blog posts, in good ones, and in epic ones. It came in discovering how I liked to write and what people liked to read. It came in budding self-confidence and in an ever-expanding comprehension of the realm of publishing. Growth came and is coming. I should not have been a New York Times Bestseller when I published Issym in 2009. I had no following and I lacked the energy with which to withstand criticism and accept praise. Just as my writing was growing so was I. Today I have the endurance with which to stand much more, the skill with which to wade through conflicting reviews of my books, and the passion to keep going even in the dry spots. The seventeen-year-old author of Issym could have wanted to be famous within weeks of publication. She wasn’t ready.

So, my friends, do not see writing without profit or applause as failure. See it as a means to an end. Every word you write, every article you publish, and every book you finish is growth–with or without accolades. Profit may come, but it should never be the sole reason we write.

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