Tuesday, March 31, 2015

To Writer or Not to Writer

Are you a writer?  A new writer?  A stay-at-home or write-on-the-weekends writer?  Do you write?  Perhaps, even an aspiring writer?  The following is aimed at you, but you shouldn’t take it to heart.  Its heart is in the right place, even if its final message if an utter train-wreck:

The idea is simple.  If you write, then you’re a writer.  There’s no need to caveat your title as “writer” with something that dilutes what you are.  That part is fine.  Even being admonished to call yourself a writer rather than a [insert-something]-writer is reasonable advice.

Writer, do you?
But the argument this meme-thingy uses to support itself is fundamentally flawed.  It's a lengthy way of Yoda-ing, “Do or do not. There is no try.” When, umm, yeah, actually, there is a try.

There are several tries.

Sure, simple goals are attainable.  Pick up a piece of paper.  No problem.  Now put it in the trash.  It’s a two-step process, but you get the idea.  For most people not reenacting scenes from 50 Shades of Stupid there’s not much “try” in that.  But lets add some steps—crumple that piece of paper and shoot it, basketball style, off the frig, over the two year old, around the sink and into the trash (nothing but liner) and suddenly there’s a whole world of try.

That’s the reality of what it is to be a writer.

Writing involves more than putting words on the page.  There are a thousand-million-bazillion tries. You try to write a book, you try to write a short story, you try to write a scene, you try to write dialogue. Sometimes you succeed. Other times, the work is crap, or it doesn't flow, or it's a mistake, or it takes the story in the wrong direction. Or, worst of all, it confuses the audience.  Your work in progress file might have a dozen or a hundred different stories that you started and stopped. Your Ideas folder might have a thousand concepts that you jotted down and haven't gotten to just yet.

There are nearly as many books, articles, and advice memes on how to write as there are actual books written.  More join the ranks each year as “new” and “different” experiences are had by aspiring writers the world over.

That is the point.
Aspire to nothing but net!

So calling yourself an “aspiring writer” actually does mean something, and it means something accurate.

Aspire means to seek ambitiously, to be desirous, especially of something lofty or highly valued. To ASPIRE to be a writer is, to quote the poet, “To strive, to seek to find, and NOT to yield.”  The Beatles didn’t leap from the forehead of Zeus fully-formed.  They required ten-thousand hours playing in dives.  Stephen King wasn’t born Stephen King (he was born Stephen Edwin King)—he had to write for years and years before he sold anything.

He certainly aspired to be a writer, even as he was writing.  It’s a good aspiration to have.

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