Posts Tagged ‘storytelling’

I Don’t Want to be a Writer

Today is one of those days that worries me while I’m writing a novel.  I don’t have much to do today, other than write.  I worked out this morning, but Ashley is at work all day, and I have the day off, and frankly, I’m bored.  I did, in two separate thirty-minute sessions, crank out a mite over two thousand words so far. I hope to push myself past ten thousand by the end of the day, but we’ll have to see what happens.

Writing a novel generates a lot of questions in those around you. Believe me, if you’re lacking for conversation topics around the dinner table, at the office, or at the bar, just go ahead and throw out there for the crowd the fact that you’re writing a book.  The idea itself conjures up images of mystery and intrigue for the uninitiated, and as most of your acquaintances have little or no concept of what such a task entails, they will bombard you with questions until they get bored of asking, and that can take quite a while.

What I think is interesting is what questions are asked.  After the basics, like “what’s it about” and “why are you doing this crazy thing?” some people start into the really deep aspects of writing.  One question I was asked by a friend is, “do you think you’re a good enough writer to get published?”

I had to stop and think about that one for a moment.  Then two moments.  Something felt very wrong with the question, but I couldn’t quite place my finger on it. So, I shrugged, gave a vague “who knows” and we carried on with the conversation.

I’ve had a few more moments to think about it, and I think I’ve isolated my issue with the statement.  I don’t want to be a good writer.  Good writers get jobs at newspapers and magazines and write travel brochures.  I’m not interested in just being good with words.  Writing a novel isn’t just about ‘having a way with words.’  Don’t misunderstand, having a comprehensive and working knowledge of the ins and outs of the English language certainly does make things easier, but it isn’t my goal to fascinate anyone with my syntactical brilliance.

I want to tell stories. What I like about novels is that they are stories.  Technical merits rank very low for me on the scale of what makes a good read.  And, I think, that translates into my writing.  When I’m editing, I think I’ll be spending a lot less time on the structure and form of my sentences, and more time on identifying plot holes and shaping up characterization and setting.  If the story is good, the novel is good, even if the writing isn’t perfect.  You can pretend to be a better writing by editing. You can’t pretend to be a better storyteller. It’s either there, or it’s not.

I’m looking forward to telling more of the story I’m working on now.  And I’m excited to see the reactions from people who read it. Not about whether the language was good, but whether the tale itself is compelling and makes you want to read further.

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