I know it’s hard to believe, but I’m a very simple person.
I don’t drive an extravagant model of car. I mean, I drive a KIA. It’s worth $6.99.
I don’t have a lot of clothes. The clothes I do have aren’t anywhere near designer or anything.
I don’t particularly like really fancy food. In fact, the fancier the food, the less I probably like it.
A great night out, for me, is hanging with some friends, having a slice or two from Fellini’s Pizza, and then watching a bad movie on cable.
So why, when it comes to writing, I try to get all fancified, I don’t know. But it isn’t working. So I need to get back to what worked. and what worked was being simple.
Simple meant one, singular goal: To improve my craft and skill at the art of telling a story. I have done that, by mere consequence of writing more and reading more, but it used to be that I would pick out a trait that I didn’t like about my writing, or read an instructional book on writing and put those skills to work. That was why I was writing such things as fanfiction and drabbles and snippets and such and such. It wasn’t so much the story– though it was, some, the story– it was the skill. I was inspired to improve on certain things, one skill at a time.
Was I writing effective dialogue? Showing, not telling? Eliminating adverbs? Using descriptive imagery? Creating more effective transitions between people, or events, or gaps of time?
Simple meant enjoyment: writing to enjoy the process, to enjoy reading it back, to enjoy hearing how others liked reading it or how it impacted them and in what ways they could relate. Lately, it’s like dragging myself to the computer, and I avoid writing because I just no longer enjoy doing it. It’s now more pressure on myself to ‘finish the project’ and not enjoy writing and learning and changing and growing.
So, what happened? Twitter. Yeah, it seems harmless… but it’s sort of made writing not fun.
What happens when I get on Twitter, and find all these fellow writers and authors and god-bless-it, really talented people, is that I start to look inward. And I compare my work to theirs. And I start picking things apart that they do better than I do. Or worse, at the risk of sounding conceited– but they’re the ones with a book deal, not me. Or I see people I truly adore and admire just pushing forward and making dreams come true, and I can’t even find a more useful term to use than ‘nod’ or ‘wink’ or ‘shrug’… I’m so tired of my characters shrugging and sighing. It bothers me that I can’t be more descriptive in that way.
So, I read and try to soak in what other authors are doing and try to divine some skill. I write and I write and I edit and I write and I edit and I write. And I follow all these people and read all these blogs and join all these forums and attend all these chats and follow all these @people and……….yet I am not improving and not getting anywhere but frustrated. My writing life is so complicated, now. So stressful, now. I’ve become aware that I’m subconsciously competing to be in the ‘me too’ crowd of cool kids.
Who am I kidding? I was NEVER cool! Why, in my 30’s, would I think I could or should be? Why, when what I really am is quiet and solemn. I have always kept to myself. Been very quiet. I have always read a lot and wrote a little. I have always acted out scenes in my head. I have always talked out chapters out loud in the car while people around me thought I was nuts for talking to myself. And I have always not cared how crazy I look because what are the odds I am going to see them again and secondly– it was working.
So I… UNfollowed some folks– some great folks, don’t get me wrong but…. I had to simplify.
Some I unfollowed for personal reasons– irreconcilable differences, we’ll call them. But some I unfollowed because the focus of their journey was not encouraging to me, it was frightening and distracting and I thought I was a failure because I wasn’t there, where they are, in their journey. Or it was because the focus of information and advice were toward a genre or subject matter that I just couldn’t relate to.
I kept a few people because where they are is where I am or where I’m aiming to be. Their focus is on the craft and the skill, on expecting more from yourself and not accepting failure or a half assed lackadaisical effort. Their tweets weren’t about information I can’t do anything with, right now. Their tweets are about relevant, useful information, inspiration, direction, motivation and personal experience– right now.
I recently moved into a new apartment. It’s bright and beautiful, and it has a second bedroom– I’ve never had a two bedroom before. This bedroom will become my writing space. I’ll be unpacking and then doing a little traveling but when I come back, I’ll be very excited to set up my space– a space where I will sit down at the computer with my character board before me, my story line/ plot notes at my right hand and a cup of coffee at my left, and finally get back to what was working for me– writing simply. Simply writing.
That? Is exciting to me.
Kind of makes me want to write something!