My daughter is learning about photographing patterns, light and shadows. She took these with her digital for fun, but more often than not, you’ll find her with the new camera. The child likes nothing better than to be out with that 35 MM taking black and white photos for her class. Until she learns to develop her own film, we are making weekly treks to buy and develop.
(Okay, to be honest, she likes being on the phone more than anything. Sometimes, she carries the phone around outside WHILE taking pictures. She also likes her IPOD. Sometimes, she carries the phone and IPOD around while taking pictures. She’s talented that way. It would be nice if that talent included remembering to put the phone back where it goes once in a while…)
But, she’s learning her craft. It’s a necessary part of the process. I’ve told my children from birth, that to be good at something, they have to practice. Karate, volleyball, clarinet, math– all of these things take time.
Funny how you can know this, share it with other people, yet not apply it to yourself.
So why do so many expect writing to be any different? The talent can be there, but learning to write tight, to portray living setting and emotion, to create characters that stay in a reader’s mind long after putting down that book — it doesn’t come easily. To most. There are those lucky few who get it right immediately and I really, really wish I’d been one of them. But no.
Yesterday, one of my cps, Rachel Vincent, wrote about critique partners and writing that first book without one. I happen to think it’s good advice. I wrote my first two by myself. I learned quite a bit about writing when I didn’t know the rules. (Before I understood completely that those kind of rules are meant to be broken.) Now, these are books that will never, ever, ever, see the light of day because damn, they’re so incredibly bad, I hid them from myself. (Really. I can’t find them.) But I wrote every word all the way until “the end.”
Unfortunately, it took me several more tries to get it right. I used to think that when it came to writing, I was a slow learner. No, that wasn’t it at all. I’m just an evil, over-achieving self-expectation- defeating-crazy-assed perfectionist.
For some reason, I thought I’d spit out To Kill a Mockingbird with the first try. For the record, I’m no Harper Lee — not even close. I write in a completely different genre and while I hope messages of equality, compassion and acceptance come through in my work, it’ll be coming through bloody battles, smart-mouthed characters and yeah, a weird creature or two.
I’ve been slow to post because I’ve been working on that book of mine. Yesterday, I wrote an entire chapter, saved it and it still disappeared when the laptop crashed. I stomped around, raged a bit, then shrugged it off because sometimes, these things happen for a reason. Believe me, this is new. It used to take me days to recover from the anger that would cause.
But this morning, after sitting and trying to “re-create” the same piece of work, I found the story took a better route. Now, this doesn’t mean I won’t get ticked the next time it happens– I’ve a doozy of a temper– but I’ve reached this level as a writer that’s more…what’s the word… comfortable. I’ve finally learned that every word is not precious and sometimes, even good ones have to be ruthlessly sliced to make a manuscript better. Though I’ll probably be hitting up that critique partner with more than one chapter at once soon, I’m a lot more happy with the way this new chapter is taking shape.
Speaking of which, I need to get back to it. I got distracted by the five wild turkeys in my backyard. Now, I’m not my daughter, but I can take a decent photograph.
Uh, these are terrible, so I must point out that I had to stay far away and zoom to catch them. Plus, even far away, I spooked them and they took off. Since I’ve also picked up a lovely stomach bug, I was wrapped in a dark green blanket with little gold threads when I snuck outside — I’m sure the turkeys ran because of the big, glittery green thing flashing lights at them.