ON WRITING

For those of you who missed the Local Author’s Forum today, here is a copy of my speech. Sorry, but you had to come to the library on Sunday to hear the reading of the book! Enjoy my thoughts:

Not everyone can write or write well. For those of us who choose to write – to tell a story – one that everyone will enjoy, the task can be both a delight and a curse.

For those of us whose write non-fiction, we can get on with the task because it seems so easy to organize the facts and reiterate them on paper. There are so many bits of information in our heads that we must get them out! So, preparing to write non-fiction was the easy part for me.

However, when I take on a new project, I over-prepare. I read and re-read everything in the genre. I take copious notes. I confuse me. I outline and re-outline. Then I sit. After about an hour of self-loathing, and questioning my sanity, I make many false starts.

I begin to think of everything else that needs doing around the house – you guys know what I’m talking about. And, sometimes, I succumb to all those distractions, get up and get on with the doing. I put on a load of laundry. I wash the dishes. I go out to the garden and work for a while. Then, I take the dogs for a walk. And, by taking them out, I realize that I have succumbed to their mockery.

When author Annie Dillard was writing something particularly hard, she stated she looked down and discovered that the dog was staring at her. In her book On Writing, she stated, “The dog opened one eye, cocked it at me, and rolled it up before her lids closed.”

She said:  “People should not feed moralistic animals. If they’re so holy, where are their books?”

After all the non-writing, I finally take heart to the task at hand. I take a deep breath, sit in front of my computer, set up the page, and begin typing. I start thinking about writing my Great American Novel (which I am currently working on, by the way). And, Voila! I get a chapter done and I’m amazed.

Some days the writing is really easy. I think it’s the best prose, ever! Other days, I just cut everything out of the work because it’s so bad. (I have learned to save all those precious paragraphs in another document, because they might be good after all, And, I might need them later! Or not!).

Anne Lamott, author of Bird by Bird, once stated that “We write to expose the unexpected.” We writers write for many different reasons. Some of us are driven to tell stories since we first learned to write. Some of us catch the bug right before we turn 60 (you can guess who that is!).

The arduous tale can be told easily or painfully. Annie Dillard once said, “Much has been written about the life of the mind.” Not all writers understand why they are driven to write. They just do. And our readers are happy to buy our books, because they didn’t have to write them! They have the fun and easy task of enjoying the tale.

However, telling the tale is just the beginning. Then the real work begins. You have to get through 152 edits. When you are satisfied with what you have, you send it out to be rejected on the average of 45 times. Finally, the right agent finds you. They send you The Response. The publishing process has just begun, but you are happy. The next 500 steps are both a curse and a joy, because now you’ve moved on to your next project and quite simply, you’re sick of the last one.

But, the ultimate joy for any writer is seeing their beautiful book in final print, all glossy and new. We’ve had our say; our 15 minutes of fame, and now the masses can enjoy our thoughts.

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