Today I’ve got Elysa Hendricks on the blog talking about why we write. I loved this piece and I completely agree with Lisa.
Writing is hard work. Whether an author writes fiction or non-fiction she spends weeks, months, sometimes years working alone to create her prose. She opens her literary veins and bleeds her hopes and fears, dreams and insecurities onto the page, a process much like giving birth, in the hope that her words can convey her ideas to some unknown reader.
Then once she writes those two glorious words – The End – she discovers that the process has merely begun. Now she has to revise, edit and polish her opus. And after that the hard part begins. She carefully packs up her imperfect infant and ships her off to a harsh stranger, the ultimate judge – The Editor.
If she’s fortunate The Editor will like her carefully crafted words and want to publish them with only minor revisions and edits– say, 299 pages out of the total 300. Most of the time though the answer comes back – Thanks, but no thanks – with little or no explanation as to why her baby didn’t make the grade.
Writing is hard, lonely work. Rejection is more common than acceptance. And with few exceptions the monetary rewards are small. So why do we continue to write?
Why do we breathe? Why do we eat?
We write because it’s not what we do, it’s what we are. We’re writers. Storytellers.
Mankind’s need to communicate goes back to the caveman. Even without the benefit of the written word, or pen and paper, cavemen were compelled to put down their history and stories on the walls of their caves. The human need to share our thoughts, dreams and stories was so strong we created the written word.
Each of you feels the same compulsion that long ago caveman felt. Inside your head the voices of your characters clamor for their stories to be told. You’re reading this because you want to learn how to better tell those stories. To learn more about the craft of writing – the rules.
Sommerset Maughm said, “There are three rules to writing, unfortunately no one knows what they are.”
This is both true and untrue. Writing is a both a craft and an art. And as with any craft there are skills you can learn – spelling, grammar, POV, Show Don’t Tell, Goal, Motivation, Conflict, Scene & Sequel, etc. These are the so-called “rules” of writing. They can be learned and practiced and used to enhance your writing. And once you know them there will be times when you’ll chose to break them.
But writing is also an art. You can learn the craft of writing, but it’s the art that gives writing its life.
Maybe it would be clearer to call the parts – mechanics and talent – rather than craft and art. Like Lance Armstrong I can ride a bike. I can even go fast – for a short bit. Maybe with training I could improve my mechanics of riding to ride faster and longer, but would I ever have the talent for racing that Lance displays? I’ll never know for sure, but I doubt it, because I don’t have the desire to be a bike racer. That doesn’t mean I can’t continue to enjoy bike riding and continue to improve my skill.
Over the years I’ve attended writing workshops, read books on writing, and most of all I’ve written to improve my writing mechanical abilities, but do I have talent? I like to think so, but I’m not sure. In the end it doesn’t really matter. The need to write, to tell my stories is overwhelming. I’m a writing addict. Talent or no talent I’d rather stop breathing than writing. So like the song says, “I’ll just stay addicted and hope I can endure.”
Talent is a gift, but like a tender young plant it must be protected, cultivated, supported and fed. Rejection forces us to grow tough outer skins to protect the bud of talent in our souls. To cultivate that bud we take writing workshops to improve our skills, and by improving our skills we support our talent. Every word, every sentence, and every story we write nourishes and makes our talent stronger.
So read, learn, grow, and write.
Elysa Hendricks is 5’6″ tall. She has curly hair and brown eyes. She’s an author, a wife, a mother, and a daughter. Everything else is subject to change without notice. She loves hearing from readers and other writers. You can find her on her web site: http://www.elysahendricks.com or on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Elysa-Hendricks-Author/137316289643103
Blurb for The Baby Race:
Race Reed doesn’t want a wife, but to save his ranch he needs a baby. To gain custody of her stepsister, Claire Jensen needs a husband, but she wants love. Wants and needs are bound to clash when they run The Baby Race.
Race Reed reserves his love and attention for the abused horses he cares for on his ranch. Because his mother changed husbands as often as she changed clothes, doesn’t believe in wedded bliss. Now to save his ranch he needs the money his paternal grandmother is offering as a marriage incentive. The bizarre contest she’s set up between him and his two cousins to produce her first great-grandchild is another matter. His only option – cheat in The Baby Race.
Claire Jensen wants two things out of life, home and family. During her younger years she never questioned her father’s nomadic lifestyle as he hunted for treasure, but as she grew older she longed to put down roots. When her father remarried and gave Claire a stepmother and baby stepsister, she’d thought her prayers were answered. Instead, she took over the parental role to her stepsister as her father and stepmother continued to search the world for treasure. In every way that matters, the six-year-old is Claire’s daughter. When Claire’s father and stepmother are killed on their latest quest for treasure, without a steady job, husband or home, Claire is about to lose custody of her young stepsister. Her only option – run the The Baby Race.
To everyone who visits today Elysa is offering a FREE ebook copy of my contemporary romance COUNTERFEIT LOVE. To download your FREE copy of COUNTERFEIT LOVE go to: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/83527
Use Coupon Code: MM24E (Expires 12-31-12)
Thanks so much for joining me today, Elysa. I’m going over to Smashwords now to get my copy of your book!
September 5, 2012 at 8:28 am
Thanks so much for having me here to visit today. I hope my “words” are helpful and inspirational.
September 7, 2012 at 1:09 am
Thanks for blogging with me, Elysa! I found the post very helpful and so true. I could not stop writing even if I wanted to.
September 5, 2012 at 8:30 am
There’s a small error with the Smashwords link. It should be: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/83527 The dot between www and smashwords was left out. Sorry about that. 🙂
September 5, 2012 at 9:08 am
Thanks Elysa, you speak the truth and do it beautifully.
September 5, 2012 at 9:11 am
Heather, glad you enjoyed my piece. Hope you pick up a copy of COUNTERFEIT LOVE and enjoy it as well.
September 5, 2012 at 10:06 am
WOW, writing is not what we do, it is what we ARE (I love that)! In the military, I wrote manuals and procedures for emergancies (checklists on what to do, “IF”). When I was “called” to write my first assessment and treatment book, working in psychology, I thought it would end there…but got “called” to write my “Immortal Relations” series (second book due out late this month or in October). It is true, I could no more stop writing than to stop breathing (and at my age the latter may happen sooner than later)! LOL
September 5, 2012 at 10:08 am
I loved your analogies Elysa. This afternoon I plan on releasing my inner cavewoman then dragging hubby by the hair to the bedroom. Life is good and I’m very creative
September 5, 2012 at 10:09 am
I completely agree. If you are a writer, it’s something that your are even when you aren’t punching a key board or taking pen to paper. It is who we are; part of our identity. It’s how we see the world, from eavesdropping on snippets of conversation to trying to accurately describe how a mountain landscape makes us feel. Great post. Thanks!
September 5, 2012 at 10:40 am
You’re soooo right; writing isn’t something we just *do,* it’s totally who we are.
A number of years ago, I told my hubby that I was done with writing. Finished. I wasn’t good at it, I’d never get published, it was a stupid fantasy, yada, yada, yada. I cleared off my desk, packed up my computer and filed away all my books, notes and notebooks. Wanna know how long that lasted? A day. Less than 24 hours. Hubby came home from work and everything was again sprawled across my desk. I simply shrugged and told him, “It’s who I am.”
Thanks for a great post!
September 5, 2012 at 5:57 pm
I’m so glad you didn’t quit. 🙂
September 5, 2012 at 11:38 am
Inspiring article…thanks for sharing!
September 7, 2012 at 1:10 am
Thanks for stopping by everyone! I’m off to pick up a copy of her book now!