I was sitting in my scriptorium (study), one afternoon, gazing out the window, daydreaming! When there was a heavy knock at my front door. Startled out of my idea-catching mode, I went to the door, opened it, and there stood my Long Lost Cousin. He is no longer long lost, because we found each other a few years ago. I ushered him into the scriptorium. I sat in my swivel chair and he plunked himself down on the settee.
“What’s on your mind, cousin?”
“Well, you know I read your blog stories all the time, and I’ve read your ebook, so I like your writing and want to be a writer myself!”
“Do you want a drink, cousin?”
“No, thank you, I want to stay sober because I’m going to do a little writing later.”
“Thank you for your loyalty and the compliment. Have you written anything recently?”
“Yes, I’ve tried my hand at a few short stories. The few people that have read them, including my wife, said they were okay. But I question, can I write?” LLC looked confused.
“Well cousin, there are a few measurements available to see if you can write.”
“Such as?” LLC said eagerly.
“Lets first take “Technical Proficiency”, how well you understand the component elements of writing. Such as dialogue, description, exposition, characterization, punctuation, grammar and narrative.”
“Oh boy, that’s a lot of elements?”
“That’s not all of them, also you have chronology, flashbacks and backstory, show or tell, tense and point of view.”
“You need to know all that?” LLC looked worried.
“Of course, cousin, if you want to write well. Every element melds together flawlessly to create a powerful impression on the reader!”
“So, it’s like magic?”
“That’s right, “The Writer’s Magic”. You can get your reader excited, scared, angry and full of emotion. But they never see how you did the trick!”
“Yes, next comes “Structural Proficiency”, the more word count you have, the more demands on the writer. You have to understand pace, storyline, character arcs, suspense, conflict and twists.”
“What kind of writer are you, cousin?”
“Well cousin, I’m a blend of two types. I like to write chronologically sometimes and other times I prefer to write bits of the story separately, here and there and everywhere. Just so I don’t lose the thread of the storyline!”
“When I came this afternoon, were you writing?”
“Actually, I was daydreaming, which is part of the writing process.”
“How’s that, cousin?”
“Daydreaming is one source that a writer has to draw his material from. The writer creates a world of fantasy, like a child at play, he then invests all his emotions into it, while separating it from reality.”
“Boy, this is interesting stuff, cousin,” said LLC, his eyes sparkling, “Tell me more.”
“A writer sometimes takes a strong experience in the present and it awakens a memory from his past, maybe childhood, from which he now proceeds to write about a wish, a daydream, which finds fulfillment in his story!”
“So, after all that, what are the problems that a writer has just starting out like me?”
“The problems are personality problems. The writer starts a story but loses heart, gets stuck and is blocked. Sometimes he writes good and sometimes he writes very bad! It’s frustrating! In other words, they are problems of confidence, self-respect, the demons of the subconscious, where a lot of our ideas come from.”
“Lots of problems then?”
“Yes, but you can work hard and get rid of the habits of thought that impede your progress. In other words, strengthen your right side of the brain, which handles expressive and creative tasks.”
“Any final words before I leave?”
“Yes, cousin, they are on the light side. I asked a guy, the other day, what he did for a living.
“I’m a brain surgeon, what do you do?”
“I’m a writer,” I said.
“Oh, that’s what I think I’ll do when I retire,” said the surgeon, matter-of-factly.
“That’s interesting,” I said, “When I retire I want to be a brain surgeon!”
MY COUSIN LEFT THE BUILDING!
Interesting insight into the complex mind of a writer with all of the demons, insecurities and emotions – good and bad.
It is not for everyone, that is the point. I for example, am better at taking other people’s work and making it flow well. Can’t profess to being very good at the initial creativity… although they say there is a book in everyone 🙂
You set me thinking about famous writers : Dickens ,Jane Austen ,Nevil Shute ,John Updyke….et al ..ad infinitum ! Did they have such a structured approach …or did they go “with the flow” ?
There are a lot of go-with-the-flow books about and some are fairly decent. But even though you go with the flow, you need a solid background in the writing craft. Some books get published just because their premise or genre was marketable. They are at the low end of the Proficiency scale.
If there were a *like* button ,I’d hit it ,Dave ! 🙂
I admire people who can write. I write skits and a few monologues which I perform myself. I write articles for the community newspaper. I enjoy writing but don’t have the patience to actually write anything profound. I also don’t have those skills you mentioned in your blog. I guess I write for myself. Sort of “seat of the pants” writing.
Hah! Good punch line. You really hit with information overload, poor guy. Merciless!
Don’t forget to trip over to my blog where I’m asking folks to help me pick a title for my next book. Suggestions are allowed and encouraged.
So this means You think I can’t right? And are You making fun of the my lifetime of being a gallant telephone repairman and cable technician just to retire to become a modest volunteer breast cancer examiner? I know I could tell you stories of my career as a friendly telephone man that would curl what hair you have left. I think it comes down to you not wanting your LLC to out right you!
I enjoyed your story. You really put in words that
writing is not that simple. It also proofs that not
everyone can write.