Monday 10 June 2013

Insecure Writers Support Group - June 2013

Anna Nordeman

Thanks to Alex J Cavanaugh for starting Insecure Writer's Support Group.

This is my fourth post for IWSG.

Sorry, I am so late!

For this post I am NOT going to share my list of how-to-write books. (For those who would like to see the list please go here.)

What I'll do this time, is quote from one of the authors on my list, Phyllis Whitney (1909-2008), author of more than 70 novels, mysteries and romances, for young people and adults. In her 'how-to' book, Guide to Fiction Writing (1982), she explains how her writing career began:

     Ever since I was about twelve, I have wanted--not to be a writer--but to write. I loved to make up stories and set them down on paper. When I was teaching writing, it always surprised me to discover how many beginners saw their goal only as becoming famous and earning a lot of money. These were the ones who fell by the wayside, since they weren't willing to work at becoming a writer. For a great many years, even after I had grown up, my stories were pretty bad. I didn't realize then that it was supposed to be that way, that of course I would not be a good writer until I'd practiced for a long time and learned how to use the tools of my craft.
     Only a handful of writers and artists start out by creating masterpieces, and in some ways they are to be pitied because their success is accidental and they have no idea how it came about. For them, everything fell into place by chance, and they are unable to repeat their success without serving an apprenticeship, harder to do after a too easy taste of success. Perhaps stumbling through a period of poor writing and all too many rejection slips is a surer way of mastering one's craft. (page x)

The desire to learn how to write well, to learn how to tell a good story should be more important than notions of winning fame and fortune as a best-selling author. I am so happy to find this passage in Ms Whitney's guidebook for wannabe writers. I had just opened and read the first chapter of Dean Koontz' How to Write Best-Selling Fiction (1982) and was so disappointed. Koontz, who writes compelling novels, has written a  calculating handbook about writing; all about which genre to choose and which not, because of what happens to be in vogue at that time. I put it down quickly as if I had burnt my fingers. Phyllis Whitney's down-to-earth wisdom from a long life and career gives timeless advice. (Phyllis Whitney lived to be 104.)

     Something to think about. Don't get so caught up in making it big that you loose sight of honing your craft and following your inner convictions.

Best wishes,

First Commenter:
Alex J. Cavanaugh

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