I was sitting in my scriptorium (study), one late afternoon, gazing out the window, daydreaming. When there was a heavy knock on my front door. Startled out of my idea-catching mode, I went to the door, opened it, and there stood my old schoolmate, Tom. I ushered him into the scriptorium. I sat in my swivel chair and he plunked himself down on the settee.
“Long time, no see!”
“It’s been a fair few years, I guess.”
“It’s good to see you. Now, what’s on your mind, Tom?”
“Recently, I stumbled across your blog. I read your blog stories and I’ve also read your novels. I like your writing and I want to be a writer myself.”
“Thank you for the compliment. Do you want a drink?”
“No, thank you, I want to stay sober because I’m going to practice my writing later.”
“I find a glass or two of red wine helps me with my writing. Have you written anything lately?”
“Yes, I’ve tried my hand at a few short stories. My wife says they’re okay. But I question, can I write?” Tom looked confused.
“Well, my friend, there are a few measurements available to see if you can write.”
“Such as?” Tom 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, backstory, show or tell, tense and point of view.”
“You need to know all that?’ Tom looked worried.
“Of course, my friend, 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 you as a writer. You have to understand pace, storyline, character arcs, suspense, conflict and twists.”
“What kind of writer are you, Dave?”
“Well Tom, 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 there and everywhere. Just so I don’t lose the thread of the storyline.”
“Boy, this is interesting stuff, Dave,” said Tom, 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 proceeds to write about a wish, or a daydream, which then finds fulfillment in his story.”
“So, what are the problems that a writer has starting out like me?”
“The problems are personality problems. The writer starts a story but loses heart and confidence, gets stuck and is blocked. Sometimes he writes good, sometimes bad. It’s frustrating! In other words, there are problems of confidence and self-respect. Then there are 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. You must strengthen the right side of your brain, which handles expressive and creative tasks.”
“Any final words before I leave?”
“Yes, Tom, but 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!”
TOM LEFT THE BUILDING!
This article was posted by David Wise author of “Web of Guilt”, “24 Traumatic Hours, Twice”, and “The Becoming”.
All available on Amazon in ebook and paperback.
Also published on Medium.