Finding Magic

Writing is easy right? It has to be. I mean we’re all taught more or less how to do it in school. So when you call yourself a writer, interested people are often excited and ask what kinds of things you write. Even if you’ve just started to dabble in different forms, your answer will spark a generally enthusiastic response. A discussion of likes and dislikes is apt to follow, but eventually the conversation will end in one of two ways. You’ll either hate each other’s taste in reading material and awkwardly agree to disagree before moving on to how awesome / bland / dreadful the weather is. Or the person will ask where you’ve been published.

If you’re lucky enough to have had your work made public (online, in print, performed, whatever), you can confidently go ahead and crow. But, if like the majority of people who write, you haven’t yet found the right home for your work, you’ll likely want to die of embarrassment or go sob in a corner somewhere.

That nasty little voice in the back of your head will start yabbering away. You’re not published? You must be crap. Why are you wasting your time? People are laughing at you.

Under that kind of onslaught it’s hard not to feel like a failure isn’t it?

Don’t. Every single writer on the planet has been there, generally multiple times.

Writing is easy. Anyone can do it. These are both true. But writing well is hard – extremely hard.

What you learned in school has conditioned you to write clearly in predictable patterns. Good writing isn’t always like that. It doesn’t always follow the rules. Take dialogue. If you listen to people talking, you’ll hear what I mean. How many people speak in complete sentences, or follow a thought through to conclusion? What if someone else talks over the top of them? What if they’re arguing? Good writing shows all of that without having to state X was arguing so much with Y that neither could get a proper word in.

The point of all this is to remind you that a lot of craft goes into the creation of magic. Don’t fall into the trap of comparing yourself to established authors whose work you admire. If you’d just started painting would you compare yourself to one of the greats? Of course not. To do so would be self abuse. Writing is no different. Doing it well takes both practice and persistence. The more you do it, the better you’ll get.

To begin, I’d suggest taking a leaf out of Yoda’s handbook and unlearn what you have learned.¬†And in beginning, remember that like any other art form, failures lead to new understanding. Let them happen and you’ll start finding magic behind the most unlikely trees.

What Will The Neighbours Think?

You’ve decided you want to write. What? Are you crazy? Don’t you know people will think you’ve leapt from the high-tower into an empty pool, that you’ve eaten the last of your remaining sandwiches, and quite possibly that you’ve hawked your bag of prized tombowlers for an idea that’s left you fog-blind? Why waste your time doing something very few people will likely see, much less like? I implore you, take that little spark and snuff it – now, before it’s too late! Scatter the ashes across the furthest reaches of your grey matter and hope the whole nonsense gets smudged into all that lovely squidgy stuff. That should do it, right? Kill off any lingering fantasies of the scribbling kind?

Nope. Sorry to disappoint. Once that brand has been lit, embers will continue to burn, no matter how far down the cerebral crevasses you’ve buried them. Ideas will lodge there, take up residence. Sometimes they’re like squatters, impossible to evict. Then what?

Science tells us the human body is a haven for all sorts of extraneous detritus. So what harm is there in allowing creativity to flourish? Will we undergo complete personality flips if we give space-time to something that might bring us personal joy and / or satisfaction? Will we neglect our responsibilities or our loved ones because we’re so obsessed we can’t see past our own brilliance? Not unless we are already those kinds of people.

So, if your synapses have been singed by even the dullest of flares, take a chance. Grab a pen. Spend five minutes jotting down an idea, a snippet of conversation, the way a scene / picture / movie / person made you feel. Before you know it, you’re doing it. Writing. Okay, it’s not a novel, or a story, or even anything that’s coherent. It doesn’t matter. It’s a start. And here’s the important part. If you’re writing – in whatever form that takes – you have earned the right to call yourself a writer.

Oh, and do you really care what the neighbours think?

Aside

Authorial Intrusions

The practice of interrupting the flow of a text to directly address the reader. An aside, a private joke, an instructional piece of barely discernible gibberish meant to point the way with the giant index finger of one of those massive foam hands.

That’s pretty much my intent here. By sharing some of my experiences as an emerging writer, I hope to help those less travelled lace up their walking boots and get on out the door. Care to join my adventure?