I never set out in life thinking: I’m going tobe a writer. Like much of my life happenstance, fortune and the fates carried me along like a branch in a stream and like the vast majority of my life I was happy to be along for the ride.
‘Becoming’ a writer sounds like a transition occurred at some point, but it didn’t seem that way to me. I jumped on board projects that happenstance threw in my pate and fortune and the fates dictated the rest. I don’t know if I’ll ever be a ‘famous’ writer and I don’t mind that. I have a lot more fun on the projects that I do without intent than the projects that I write and are turned into movies and such.
This is supposed to be a blog about being a writer and I realized that I rarely ever write about the ins and outs of being a writer. Part of that is because it’s a natural part of myself. It’s like talking about my eye color, it’s so much a part of me that blogging about it feels almost unnatural. When I sit back and think about where I started before my ‘becoming’ a writer and where I am now I can see the vast wealth of knowledge and wisdom I have gained from my journey.
I’ve learned that there is more to learn from other writers than there is from myself. Even though writing is, as many wise people have said, ‘the cheapest therapy you can get’, it’s interacting with other writers that has taught me some of the hardest but also some of the sweetest lessons.
Anyone who is writing or creating art of any sort is baring a part of their soul. Even if you set out to write a piece of drivel according to a formula guaranteed to become a best seller, how someone goes about doing so reveals more than hours on a therapist’s chair may reveal. There are a lot of writers out there and I’d like to say that some of them are absolute crap but the truth is that that’s just my opinion. I’ve learned that my opinion of another’s writing is entirely subjective. I’ve learned to accept this and to not judge a writer because I don’t like their writing.
This is a difficult lesson and I tell anyone that I do beta reading for to always remember that this is only my opinion. If I am content editing and I have a disagreement with someone but I’m editing for StarkLight Press, I will stick to my guns about what has to stay and what has to go… I will also remind the writer that there are lots of other presses and other option out there and that just because my feeling that their work in its current composition isn’t right for StarkLight, doesn’t mean that someone else might not think it is perfection just the way it is.
I’ve learned that it’s easy to lose friends because of giving an honest opinion after being asked to give an honest opinion. I’ve learned that I’m okay with losing those friends. I can accept this a lot better than I can accept being dishonest with someone about my opinions. I’ve also learned that no matter how often you remind some people that these are just my opinions, the cuts are too deep and a friend can become an enemy even though they’ve requested honesty.
From this I’ve learned that people are far more complicated than I ever suspected. I’ve never been the sort of friend who was okay with telling someone that they looked amazing when they (to me) really don’t. I try to be tactful and constructive but some people have egos like snowflakes and a breath of warm air can melt them. It can destroy everything they clung to that made them feel special. The hurt it causes the person is real and terrible.
I’ve learned despite this, I STILL must give an honest opinion when I’m asked for one. Even if it’s from a dear friend, my husband, anyone, I would rather them think bad of me than for me to hate myself. This was something huge to learn. I like to make people feel good about themselves. I like to pick the best parts of someone’s writing and praise it. If I’m asked to put on my editor’s hat and give a breakdown of a story though; that’s exactly what they are going to get.
The sad thing through learning all this is that I still believe that people and their writing, are each delicate and beautiful snowflakes. I don’t want to squish people and I think that it is unlikely that even what I might consider to be awful someone else might find inspiring. I’ve learned that there isn’t any point in trying to twist myself out of shape to find the beauty in every piece I read, not all writing is going to appeal to everyone and I’m part of everyone.
There is no condemnation in writing. Well, actually, there is a lot of condemnation in writing, but there shouldn’t be. It’s open ended. I’ve read some things that have truly disturbed me, things that I find to be more along the lines of a snuff film than anything I’d like to read. Things so incoherent that the main character’s name has changed three times in the first three paragraphs and their state of minds of changed so rapidly and with no given provocation that I’m left laughing out loud and scratching my head in bemusement.
But, and this is a big but, I don’t feel a need to condemn that writing. I understand that to the writer if no one else it is a thing of value. That doesn’t mean I have to like it, or read it. And it certainly doesn’t mean that if placed in an editorial position I’m not going to point out the enormous irregularities and general spazziness.
Some writers seem stuck in loops. They write about the same trauma again and again. They twist every character into the same poor, bereaved person that their soul is grieving over, usually themselves. Other writers try to mimic styles and clearly are using some sort of Gothic thesaurus. That’s okay. Writing is like sex. It’s intuitive, some people might be too rough, other people might be too bland. Some people are universally acclaimed as sex symbols and others may be waiting for ‘the one’ to recognize and match their style.
I didn’t understand the quagmire of politics that go on in writing when I got into it. Politics in many fields are something that escape me because I’m just me. I’m not trying to do anything with my writing, or with learning pottery, or with taking courses. The only thing I’m doing is being that twig on the stream. I bob along, sometimes I get caught on snags, sometimes I get submerged and other times I float merrily n the sunshine.
I’m also a little twig that doesn’t realize many things and enters each new current with the same wide-eyed innocence and faith as the first time I got into the water. I’ve learned a lot; one thing I haven’t learned is how to not be me.
I derive joy that my writing has touched so many people. Each piece of fan mail I get is a treasure. Every person who reads something I wrote and derives solace for their life makes the rest of the weird that comes with the mercurial world of writing worthwhile. Writing, reading or both, I hope people find their own lives enhanced by their pursuits like I have. I hope that they don’t bear the sting of the rejections too deeply. I hope that they are all that they hope for themselves and all the bits between.
I’ve learned a lot of other lessons from writing and the world of writing, a world non-writers are likely completely unaware of. For now, I’ve said enough. In fact, if this blog is like nearly every other piece of writing, I’ve probably said far too much.