Advice for a First Time Author

Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Alice in Wonderland, May 17, 2007.

  1. Rickard Eriksson

    Rickard Eriksson Member

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    So you are implying anything needs a talent to be done properly? Ever been in Japan?
     
  2. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll Hi floor, make me a sammich. :P Supporter Contributor

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    Writing has been around before the Greeks, and story telling has been around
    far beyond that. So talent is a key component. A craft requires a bit more than
    being able to fabricate from the imagination. You have to create a tangible
    thing, otherwise it is not much more than a talent. Otherwise epubbing would
    be considered a craft, when it does not produce any tangible thing.
     
  3. Rickard Eriksson

    Rickard Eriksson Member

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    Pictographic writing comes with an oral tradition, first script language came along with the phoenicians, ( yamna ) and there wasnt stories on them, it was a grocery list. Story telling has an intention and purpose of passing morals and ethics down the generations, that was what the ancient greeks made into an art form.

    All stories have the same seven themes, if it takes talent to write them over and over again, then i believe i misplaced what talent is about.

    A subjective story without any morals, only fits the writers paradigm, its like sitting alone on an island and make a claim to be the best on something that really only exists on that island.

    Shakespeare wrote great gospel stories to the aristocratic classes in a time when the church was outlawed in the United Kingdom, was he talented? Or was he provocative?
    He understood the so called, " Language of Love " and how it is formed, his talent was that he knew what his audience wanted, populism.

    Storytelling is about, knowing your audience, preaching humanity and displaying hypocrisy. Its a journey about self discovery, and making the right moral choices.

    If its talent to be honest, well.. Then maybe our outlook on what writing is, might be wrong.
     
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  4. OJB

    OJB A Mean Old Man Contributor

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    Wow, Rickard, that was actually a solid response.
     
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  5. Rickard Eriksson

    Rickard Eriksson Member

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    Thank you!
     
  6. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin The bastards hung me in the spring of '25.... Contributor

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    Properly, no. Exceptionally, yes. And I'm in Japan right now.
     
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  7. Rickard Eriksson

    Rickard Eriksson Member

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    Awesome! Ask any elderly Japanese hard work vs talent
     
  8. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin The bastards hung me in the spring of '25.... Contributor

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    The elderly Japanese woman said hard work is great and admirable but you're not getting anything published without talent.
     
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  9. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

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    In other words: "Both" is almost always better than "Either/Or" ;)
     
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  10. Rickard Eriksson

    Rickard Eriksson Member

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    Im pretty sure she just said the first and you put in the second part
     
  11. Rickard Eriksson

    Rickard Eriksson Member

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    Talent is just a coin phrase i believe we use in society for better genetics or lucky, most people i known who were "gifted with better genes or lucky" either trained twice as hard or failed 10.000 times before the first "lucky" attempt
     
  12. truthbeckons

    truthbeckons Active Member

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    Honestly, it looks to me like you see writing as a talent that you're either blessed with or not, and this seems to explain why I've seen you post some really discouraged things about yourself. Because it's not a helpful way to think about writing, for you or anyone else.

    I don't like seeing people talk this way, so I wanted to say something when I saw you really taking a discussion about the perfection expected by publishers personally last week:
    Sorry to drag this out, and I'm not trying to criticise you, I just want to offer a perspective that's helped me and a lot of other people, and give an example of what I'm talking about. It's natural for us to feel like that, and I think the problem is that you're convinced of two wrong things, A) that you're somehow incapable of improving beyond a certain point, and B) that you have to feel inferior for where you currently are.

    (You're right about one thing, that the odds are just incredibly low for anyone to get picked up by a publisher, but that has nothing to do with you: that's just a fact about one commercial industry in this world, one aspect of writing that's not even strictly necessary either to writing or to being read.)

    Some psychologists call this the "fixed mindset", the fatalistic idea that we are just fundamentally limited in some way, which in itself limits people.

    Writing is not about being born with talent. It can involve talent. It helps if some things come naturally, but even a complete amateur with no apparent "natural talent" can become a fantastic writer. And it does a disservice to great writers to say "oh, they just have talent," and ignore the huge amount of work they put in to get where they are.

    People are way too hung up on the idea of talent in general. It's hard work and the right attitude that pays off in the real world, in any field, including creative arts.
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2017
  13. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin The bastards hung me in the spring of '25.... Contributor

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    You caught me. There was no elderly Japanese woman. I'm still sitting in my arm chair at home in the US. Don't get me wrong, writing is certainly a craft that is highly mechanical and involves massive amounts of hard work and dedication. I don't think anyone would disagree with that. However, you have to admit that people who excel at and make their living writing have a certain amount of inherent talent. Otherwise we'd all be doing it. Luck is a different animal but also necessary in most cases. You'll hear many authors and musicians speak on how they were lucky to find the right agent/AR in the right market at the right time. Personally I don't think you'll reach the rarefied air of quit-yer-day-job writing or performance art without a healthy dose of hard work, talent, and luck. Do you feel differently? That anyone who works hard enough can succeed in the arts without talent? That the hard work is the only factor? Serious question... I'm interested in your opinion.
     
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  14. Rickard Eriksson

    Rickard Eriksson Member

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    Right market at the right time, is pretty much what sums it up.. I believe that writing is a craft, but then i believe that the "dialogue" is an art form, but then i also know that the dialogue is something you can mimic to a simple craft.

    The dialogue can show if your voice is just the pre-programmed version we all are, or not.

    I consider all of us primates on a stage, given tools to express our own spirituality, its your dedication and the hours you put in to it that becomes the outcome, not the talent.
     
  15. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin The bastards hung me in the spring of '25.... Contributor

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    Okay, I hear what you're saying. I think we're talking about the same thing but using different definitions for the idea of "talent". The "tools to express our own spirituality" is what I would call talent. And some people are born with more tools/talent than others. The hard work and hours are a given. Anyone who's reached the top of an artistic field has probably worked really fucking hard to get there. You need both dedication and talent. Luck too if you can find some. Talent alone won't get you anywhere. But then there's those math and music prodigies. Those kids that come out of the womb and know everything there is to know about math or music without needing to be taught much beyond basics. If that ain't talent I don't know what is.
     
  16. Rickard Eriksson

    Rickard Eriksson Member

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    "If you ignore the dragon, it will eat you. If you try to confront the dragon it will overpower you. If you ride the dragon, you will take advantage of its might and power.” - Chinese Proverb
     
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  17. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin The bastards hung me in the spring of '25.... Contributor

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    No doubt. I'm looking out for the dragon too. I might not be able to ride its ass, but I'll see it coming for sure.
     
  18. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll Hi floor, make me a sammich. :P Supporter Contributor

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    If it is true for me, doesn't make it true for another. What I said
    only reflects my personal exp. not that of those around me. Not
    everyone is going to like the reality. You may be 'perfect' enough,
    but not everyone is. I still write despite my being not good enough
    to be trad. published, so yes it is a talent of sorts.

    Walk ten miles in a mans shoes, before you jump to conclusions based on
    speculation.

    Every day is a lesson for me to learn and get a little better. Not to take anything
    for granted, and to work harder. I can't afford an editor, so yeah that puts
    me beneath those who can. That only makes me strive to write better,
    since I can't partake in such luxuries.

    Hell make it 100 miles, I have walked more than ten in my life. I am harder on
    myself, because my old man was hard on me. Every cruel thing he said, every
    impact of his knuckles, belt, etc. only drove home one thing: fight for what you
    want in life. Ten years I had that beaten into me almost daily, that I would be
    nothing. Yet here I am still fighting for what I want, and it is all up hill.

    If it was easy, then we would all be living the dream.
     
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  19. Infel

    Infel Contributor Contributor

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    My current desktop BG is the work schedule of Henry Miller (no idea if its actually authentic or not) from 1932 to 1933. It has 11 commandments he allegedly wrote down.

    My favorite is: Dont be nervous. Work calmy, joyously, recklessly, on whatever is at hand.
     
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  20. truthbeckons

    truthbeckons Active Member

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    It's not about anyone being perfect or not being perfect. That comment seriously has me worried that you didn't understand my point at all.

    The idea is that people aren't set to be perfect or imperfect, but when we think of ourselves and others as having a set nature like that, we limit ourselves, we limit others, or we put others on pedestals.

    I'm not sure what you mean. You could become good enough to get traditionally published one day; there's no reason you shouldn't be able to improve so much that someone in the business could be impressed by it. The problem is that the market isn't big enough for every great writer to get that chance, so no one should be evaluating themselves according to the odds that they'll get published.

    You're not "beneath" anyone who can afford an editor. You're capable of developing your writing as far as anyone else; all the wisdom in the world about writing is out there, explicitly on forums like this and to be discovered in books themselves. People who have editors have a particular advantage in a specific form of getting published, but hell, there's no reason that one day you can't be so good that you can attract an agent and get a deal with an editor. No reason that has anything to do with you, anyway, other than your own attitude. But the circumstances which are beyond your control need have no effect on how you feel about yourself.

    I really didn't mean to presume anything, I just observed factually that you were shit-talking yourself, and shared some advice I've picked up that applies to those of us who shit-talk ourselves. I still do it, and I don't think there are many people who don't. (I spent years of my life believing I was basically human garbage, believing that my own awfulness was a fixed quality determined at birth. I've had my spirit broken by abuse, trauma, and the self-distrust that comes after briefly going insane. What allowed me to see myself as capable of becoming better, and preceded actual growth, was the hard realisation that I was the one limiting myself.)

    I didn't mean to suggest anything was easy. I don't want you to feel attacked, but it sounds like you're answering back to things that I didn't say. I really just wanted to offer a way of thinking about things that's helped me.

    I admire your perseverance, and just want to remind you that you don't ever have to feel like "shit" about where you're at.

    My point was that, regardless of what's possible in the world outside of us (in terms of whether we can find the money to hire an editor, or whether a publishing company is looking for a manuscript), we can be too quick to tell ourselves what is impossible within us. To say that we can and can't do things because we did or did not receive "talent" at birth. What we really need to have is something we can make for ourselves.

    You don't have to be born with talent to become a great writer, you just don't. That belief is a symptom of a very common but counter-productive attitude that I think we need to challenge when we see it.
     
  21. sprirj

    sprirj Senior Member

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    Saw an interview with George R R Martin, and this is how he said he approached writing. This isn't an exact quote, but you'll get the idea.

    The published novel is a mountain. You can't just get to the top. You have to take it step by step. With each step, ask yourself, is this life decision getting me closer or further from the mountain top?

    Quentin Tarrentino said something along the lines of:

    Get out of loserville. Don't be the big fish in the pond. So what if you are doing more than anyone else you know, you know the wrong people. You need to be the worst at what you do in your social network, so you push yourself harder to get noticed and learn from those around you.
     
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  22. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll Hi floor, make me a sammich. :P Supporter Contributor

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    You might be right, there are a ton of stories that are interchangeable.
    That is not talent. It is just the remake of something over and over.
     
  23. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    How are you defining "talent"?
     
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  24. Solar

    Solar Contributor Contributor

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    6000 drachmae
     
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  25. Rickard Eriksson

    Rickard Eriksson Member

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    Mason?
     

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