08 August 2010

Writing Am Hard

Last summer, o faithful reader, you might recall a spattering of original fiction I dashed off and posted.  If this isn't ringing a bell, feel free to click the "Original Fiction" link at the top of the page, or in the ever-expanding list of tags to the right.  Oh, fine; here's a link.  In the span of about a month, I just about entirely filled a notebook with handwritten short stories and vignettes (and even a poem, I believe).  It was fun; I hadn't dabbled in fiction prior to those since a creative writing course I took during my final semester at Jefferson Community College as I completed my associate's degree in 2003.

The last piece I composed was Antiques, Part I.  It's been an entire year; why no "Part II" as of yet?  I wish I knew, honestly.  When that flurry of fiction was over, it felt like I'd purged the need to put pen to paper.  I've thought off and on since then, of course, about different situations I might enjoy exploring in fiction, or even a handful of lines I thought were inspired and possibly even clever.  In nearly a full calendar year, however, none of those random elements have coalesced into the urge to write.

I have, I would like to note, received some helpful constructive feedback on Maw-maw from Nikol Hasler.  (Go ahead.  Click her name and check out her blog.  I'll wait.)  She's clever, witty and has the rare ability to share her most vulnerable, innermost experiences without coming across as self-absorbed, but rather as inviting.  Anyway, she was kind enough to read my little story and I've incorporated several (though not yet all) of her recommendations.  The story has improved for them, and I think once I find a way of using all of her suggestions, it will be better still.

Ian Fleming made it look easy.
Perhaps the reason I've not felt the impulse to craft works of fiction of late stems from my reading habit this year; for the first time in a while, my fiction:non-fiction ration has heavily favored fiction.  After spending time with Ian Fleming, Edgar Rice Burroughs and Mark Twain, it feels rather arrogant to think I've got anything rattling around in my head worthy of the paper it would occupy.  (Yes, I write most of my first drafts by hand.)

Of course, you don't really care about why the fiction has been absent.  In fact, you may well be wondering why I thought it worth an entire blog entry--itself an act of composition--when I could have spent the time at least trying to write something new to share.  This actually brings us to the entire reason I've asked for your attention on the subject.

I don't believe the average reader has nearly enough respect for professional writers.  It's easy to finish reading something and dismiss it, saying, "Not as good as the last one."  But how many of us actually try to write whole novels, year-in and year-out?  Scant few, I should think.  Even trying to do something as seemingly trivial as writing a review of every movie I've seen or book I've read has become disinteresting to me.  For every movie I see, probably only a quarter of them are reviewed here.  I don't know how Roger Ebert does it.  I really don't.

The next time you find yourself unimpressed by a writer, don't content yourself to say he or she "mailed it in."  Maybe there are extraordinarily gifted writers out there capable of such an excess of quality thoughts and enthusiasm for the craft that they do, from time to time, go on "auto pilot."  My experience--limited as it is--has taught me that writing is an act of passion, whatever the medium or subject, and without that need to write, it is very difficult to get anything useful to emerge from one's head.  If you don't believe me, try writing on a regular basis for a prolonged period of time.

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