Experience it all

I have finished the story I discovered last week. It was a rush job because I wanted to get my ideas down while I was in The Zone. It’s in dire need of editing now, due to that rush. Damn, the flush and excitement of having finished it is really nice.

Now, MtM!

By Ryzen (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons

Do Writers Need College to Write?

(page 20) EXERCISE: What have you learned from LIFE that has given you themes, experience, and ideas for stories you can start telling right now?

I’ve worked in offices and in retail. I’ve done manual labor and intellectual labor. I’ve worked from a chair and on my feet. I’ve packed and shipped, engaged in Q&A and challenged many up the chain of command in every organization I’ve been in and held their feet to the fire to support the very Q&A standards they put into place.  I’ve pursued hobbies that gave me joy; parlayed them into paying gigs.

I’ve learned about people and how their own life experiences colors things for them. I’ve seen destructive behavior and great leaps of kindness.

This is something I’ve known for a long time, for as long as I have wanted to be a writer. Watch people. Pay attention. Glean from my surroundings. Be quiet and observe. The world, life, will show you more than you can possibly imagine if you just slow down and listen.

So, no, I don’t believe a writer needs college to write. Would they benefit? I think so. Just like I think they would benefit from doing anything at all that would broaden their horizons and expanding their experiences.

Sideswiped by an old story

Something wonderful has happened.by Lynn Davis from freetrangestock.com

Like most writers I know, I have my moments of doubt. Those dark places where we wonder ‘is what I’m doing any good?’ It is usually followed by ‘why am I even trying?’ and ‘god, I hope no one sees this’.

Many who hit that wall eventually give up. What they’re writing doesn’t seem to mesh with what they envision the final product to be, and they stop.

Now, I’m not talking that middle novel sag where all of a sudden, out of damn nowhere, sparkling new ideas come at us from all directions vying for our attention because we’ve hit the saggy part and we follow after happily, chasing that new high because what we were doing looked suspiciously like work. Boring work. That most certainly happens.

No, I’m talking about the creeping self-doubt that dogs our heels when we’re writing. The words are coming in a white-hot moment of inspiration…and then when we make the mistake of reading back over it, we’re plowed down by the momentum our self-doubt had built just trying to keep up.

Something thunks in our self-esteem as it plummets and we quietly slip it to the side, hoping no one noticed what we did and pray that they never actually find that piece of dreck. Yet, we don’t want to throw it away because maybe we can cannibalize it later, for when we’re a better writer and can do it justice.

Yeah, so, you know, that happened to me. I can’t remember why I put this particular piece to the side. Maybe I thought my plot was weak. Maybe I thought my writing was trite and cliche. Whole lot of maybes that I have certainly thought before, so I’m sure one or two of them caught up with me while I was writing this story and I used that convenient excuse to trunk it. Less than half done.

Well, in the interest of housekeeping on my harddrive, I happened upon it. Honestly, by this time, according to the save date a year has  passed, I barely remember this story. So, before I decide to delete, I open it and start reading.

And that something wonderful happened.

…It wasn’t that bad. In fact, it was pretty damn good. I mean, I know it was rough but what was I thinking trunking this story? I know myself well enough to know that the most likely cause of it getting dropped was I thought it sucked. Bad plot, cliche and trite. All that, maybe more.

I dug up the synopsis I wrote for it, just to bear my theory out about a sucking plot.

Nope. The plot seemed pretty solid.

So, the writing was actually pretty good, the characters were ones I enjoyed reading, the plot seemed to be solid…why on earth did I trunk this bad boy?

No clue. Absolutely no clue, save one. I believed the voice of self-doubt and put it aside. Now I’m so sorry I did. It’s not quite at the half way point (so I can’t blame Saggy Middle Syndrome) but it’s still a solid story

This sucker is getting dusted off and finished. What do I lose? Nothing. I have no firm project on the table at the moment so it’s not like my attention is getting diverted from anything.

The thing I hope to take away from this is that no matter how dark those moments get, where self-doubt smothers me, I’m never as bad as the self-doubt tells me and I can’t, simply can not let it convince me to put it aside.

Finish. Edit. Let my betas help me smooth the suck out of it if I continue to be convinced of its suckitude. But I will never let a story get dropped again.