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View Diary: Morning Reaction: What Goes Around, Comes Around? (328 comments)

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  •  Wow ... bigger question than you realize.... (3+ / 0-)
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    deep, SnowItch, polar bear

    Yes, somewhat, "just doing it."  But only somewhat.  I was both a journalism and theatre major in college, though having squeezed a four-year degree into just twelve years, I finally dropped journalism to wrap up my theatre degree.  Obviously J-school involved a lot of writing.

    Less obviously, so did theatre school.  I wrote 22 plays while in theatre school, several of which were produced, one of which was a finalist for a national young playwriters' award.  I also learned a lot about being an artist, generally: how to experience what a character experiences so I could share that, first on the stage and now on the page.

    I've been writing short stories almost since I learned to write, usually rewriting some story I'd read, trying to mimic that writer's style and voice.  I wrote an embarrassing number of high school and college essays as stories or plays.  Amazingly, looking back now, my teachers and professors were tolerant enough to grade me as if I'd written a "real" essay, most of the time.  (I think I was a self-indulgent pain in their asses.)

    I met Herself on an online writer's forum, and that's how we fell in love.  Indeed, I think I fell in love with her the night she was talking with me on the phone while sitting bored in a hotel room, and I read her a chapter from a story I was working on.  When I finished, she said "You know, you could be published.  It's that good."

    As Herself was already a published novelist with a dozen books in print, that was a a very reassuring thing to hear ... and a huge change from my ex's "I'll believe it when I see it" (direct quote) view of my work.  When she and I became life partners I was able to study under her directly - while I finished law school and then practiced law - helping her with plot and character ideas and also learning how she crafted them into a 100,000-word novel.

    Bizarrely, I'd decided to go to law school and practice criminal defense law because I wanted to write legal thrillers and I wanted to get enough "war stories" to make them plausible.  Well, I did get enough "war stories" ... to decide never to write a legal thriller. ::laughs::  My helping her with her work did evolve into our writing together, however, which we've done for over eight years now.

    We each bring our unique skills and backgrounds to our stories, and both our agent and editor say we write much better together than either of us does alone.  I'm not going to say much about her experience for privacy reasons, but she also had years of writing under her belt before she became published.

    In short, yes, it's "just doing it," but there's also a lot of training and a whole lot of "failure" involved.  I like to say there are two kinds of novelists: those who've finished a book, and those who haven't yet finished a book.  Getting from the latter to the former involves a lot of false starts and overcoming disappointment, disillusionment, and also a huge amount of stubborn self-discipline.

    Finally, it's a constant learning curve.  I know more about how to write a good novel now than I did when I first began, but less than I'll know once I get through the book I'm working on.  The day you put it on "cruise control" - in any performing art - is the day your career dies an ugly death.

    •  thanks so much for taking the time to answer-- (1+ / 0-)
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      i've done some writing, but not enough. it's something i want to get better at--i'd love to write a novel--who wouldn't, tho?  so i generally keep it to myself (actions louder than words and all).  sounds like you've lived a wonderfully full life--thanks again.

      •  Keep writing! (1+ / 0-)
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        I hadn't done "enough" when I started my first book.  And several false starts later, I still hadn't done "enough" when I finished my first book.  (It was awful!)  But if I'd never done all of those false starts - including that dreadful first book - I never would have done "enough."

        Like a pianist fumbling first through scales, then through children's songs and then again through the first simplified classics - which I also did, and "fumbling" would be the key word there - you have do make all those mistakes in order to learn.

        The best advice I ever received about writing was, "Let your first draft be bad."  Once I realized it was okay to write a horrid first draft, because I could go back and fix it in rewrite, I was able to relax and let the creative process happen.

        So keep writing!  Because the second best piece of advice I ever received was this, "They can't publish what you don't write."

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