At the beginning of August, one of my real life writing groups did a writing retreat. One of the ladies in said group brought her copy of James Patterson's online writing seminar. In it he said, "Be prepared to write, and write a lot. At least a million words. You'll go through them all, and if you stick with it doggedly, you'll get there, and find yourself not only a published author, but also one with a work ethic that will never fail you."
That really stuck with me.
When I started writing I was extremely young and naive. I came from a family that didn't really encourage those pursuits. (I can remember being eight and thinking, it would be really cool to write stories.) So my first real experience with writing, or writer's was online. I would wind up in chat rooms, especially the rp ones, and think wow. Look at all the cool stuff these people are coming up with.
It was both liberating in a way, as well as terrifying and more than a little intimidating. I was a country bumpkin, what did I know about the world, and how would I ever be able to do what they were?
Fast forward a few years, and I had out grown my rp groups. I desperately wanted to tell people stories, but not just any stories. Full long ones that would get them hooked in so they never wanted to stop reading. (I still want that.) I stumbled from chat rooms into the world of forums. But that then that to became to restricting.
I got disgusted with my progress and stopped writing for a while. I started playing video games instead. Then in 2011 I went back to college. There I saw the chance I had been waiting for. My local community college was offering a creative writing course. I thought, great... I'll finally get to learn how to do what I want to do.
It didn't go as planned either. I felt like I was a weird fish in a pond of college students who didn't really want to be doing what they were doing. Most of my class mates turned in five sentence poems when ever at all possible. (I have no problem with poems in general.) But I was turning in twelve page openings for short stories, and I didn't feel like most of them were being read much less critiqued. When the class wrapped up for the semester we all met at a local coffee house, and I found out just how wrong I had been. My professor confessed that he felt like I had a knack for it, and he and a few other class mates were sure I'd get published one day. It was a much needed ego lift.
But since 2011 I've found myself second guessing my writing, and doubting that this thing I want to do is a possibility. Most of that like other writer's is me getting in my own way, and I know that. But my point in this overly long blog is just that. Patterson's one million words comment stuck with me because even though I've struggled through the last four years, I have work to show for it.
It may only be three short stories, and two really crappy novella length works, but I've put in the words. I'm not at my million word mark yet, and I'm still figuring things out, but when I go back and read some of my writing from then versus now, or even some of the things I turned in for school, the difference is night and day. And on days like that I'm happy to do the work... no the words, because the words are taking me one step closer to my goal.
I don't do the work because I want to get published and make a lot of money. I do the work because I want to tell stories that people can't wait to read. I want to build places and characters that readers have to know more about. I want to grip people by their proverbial shirt fronts, grab their attention and leave them begging for what happens next.
I write because I can, but I'm a writer because I choose to be.
You need to be logged in to comment