An introduction - in 1000 Words or Less
I’ve read that a writer’s blog should concern itself, at least somewhat, on the craft of writing. Makes sense. I’ll keep that advice in mind but since I’m a newbie and probably can’t offer much new or insightful to the writing world, I’m guessing much of what I have to say won’t involve writing.
For excellent practical advice about writing, check out this weekly blog: http://annerallen.com/
I’ll avoid talking about: Trump, gun control, climate change, and the MeToo movement. That alone should keep you coming back with, if not interest, at least huge sighs of relief.
I’ve also read that an author’s blog should look outward rather than inward. In other words, I should discuss topics that are less about me and more about, stuff out there. That also seems like good advice. A blog about me would be as interesting as an open container of yogurt sitting in the sun and I suspect, have a similar life span. So, going forward, let’s agree to avoid the boring stuff…except for today. I think blog post 1 should serve as an introduction.
In 1994 I decided to write a novel. I loved books and I loved movies but occasionally I found myself saying, “If had written that, I would have come up with a better ending.” Or some such nonsense.
How hard could it be, right?
I didn’t own a personal computer in 1994, but I sat down in front of a typewriter, flexed my fingers and began creating a novel. 10 minutes later, I realized I was swimming in the deep end. I did not have a novel in my head. I had a scene which I was incapable of putting on paper for lack of skill and talent. Turns out, writing is hard.
The cliché is, “You can do, or be, anything you want.” To say it another way, if you have the desire, put in the work and effort and keep the goal in mind, you will ultimately end up with a product, or arrive in the place you had in mind when you started.
This is a naïve cliché. I’m looking at you, guitar lessons. Eighteen months of lessons and dedicated practice and I still couldn’t play like Brad Paisley? What the fuck?
Possibly (and by “possibly” I mean definitely), setting my personal bar at Brad Paisley’s level was an impossible goal, especially considering I can’t hear the beat in any song unless it’s performed by the Village People. (A “friend” owned one of their LPs in the late seventies). A metronome didn’t help. The clicking sound was annoying and distracting. I pulled the pin when I couldn’t play a single song in its entirety.
My goal in 1994 was to complete a novel people would read. Unlike the guitar, when it came to writing, I had some tools (very few), in my tool box. As I said, I read all kinds of books all the time, I enjoyed movies and my interest after several false starts at the typewriter hadn't disappeared. I was still willing to put in the work and effort, part of which meant learning the techniques and conventions and rules of writing a readable, if not publishable, novel.
$3000 later, I had a shiny new Dell in the house. With a 386 processor and 4 megs of RAM, it was an incredible hot-rod. Most importantly, it had a word processor. Somehow, in this age before Internet, I found a novel writing course.
Eventually, I finished an unpublishable first novel. It went into a box, and the box went onto a shelf in the closet. I started novel two. I took more courses, joined critique groups, and attended writer’s conferences. I learned how to type. When novel two was complete, it went into a box, and the box went onto a shelf in the closet. After several years, I finally had a MS I felt was ready for the world.
And, here we are.
Desire, hard work and effort does not guarantee, “You can do, or be, anything you want.” I’ll never play the guitar like Brad Paisley, no matter how much I’d like to or how much time I put into it. As is always the case however, there is some truth contained within the cliché. I attained my original goal. Somewhere along the way, I set new goals. Now I’d like to sell a novel every 12 seconds. Lee Child does! That’s probably not attainable but if Gladwell’s 10,000 Hour Rule holds true, and I keep pecking away, maybe novel three will sell more copies than novel two. And, three complete manuscripts is a long way from warming up my fingers in front of a typewriter for the first time.
If you want to weigh in, introduce yourself and talk about what goal setting and success means to you, please do.
I'll be back on August 22, discussing the necessary evil that is Facebook. Thanks for listening.