Last week’s assignments: I completed my work for Wayward Writers, and did what I think is a nice job revising the prologue, chapter one and chapter two of Catch a Falling Star. I still have chapter three to polish, and the three submissions to make, though I did assemble a nice list of possible agents. I’ll complete those today and tomorrow, then move on to the next.
I wrote my first short story over thirty years ago, and it was so bad even my kind girlfriend closed her eyes, grimaced and shook her head when asked how it was. The humiliation just leaked out of whatever gland it comes from and drowned all of my enthusiasm and desire. Both of us had built me up as a writer extraordinaire. We should have added the word “potential,” but honestly, folks, as bad as that story was, and it was wretched, it wouldn’t have mattered.
Which brings me to craft and a quote from author Joyce Carol Oates. “Inspiration and energy and even genius are rarely enough to make ‘art’: for prose fiction is also a craft, and craft must be learned, whether by accident or design.”
From that point, I took twelve years to learn the craft of acting, studying with such amazing talent as Spencer Milligan, Adam Roarke, Loren Bivens, and James Best. What in the name of creativity did I think it took to make a good writer?
The next dozen years found me learning things blind and by sheer, dumb luck, like character development, dialogue, setting a scene, but a number of things kept eluding me. Things like tight writing and story structure, things I’m learning now, but not so blind about anymore.
As I’ve mentioned, a number of wonderful eyes are helping me. Watching for me. Keeping my eyes focused on the work. I am grateful and will, over the next few weeks, be spotlighting them and what I’ve learned from them, craft and otherwise.
I’m still fighting the intense desire to move onto other projects. Two in particular strike me as wonderful beyond belief. One, oddly enough, is a non-fiction work. I’ve always wanted to write fiction because if someone caught me in a lie, then so be it. That’s what fiction is, bald-faced lies where the reader is in on the joke and lets you get away with it. The beauty of fiction is the truth under the lies. And my hope is to achieve that and much more.
But non-fiction scares the bejesus out of me. I have to be truthful and entertaining at the same time because people are watching, waiting for me to cross an imaginary line in the sand that they, themselves have drawn. And what’s the truth, really? I read somewhere once that there are three sides to every story; your’s, mine, and the truth. So, maybe it won’t be so bad.
Hmmm. I just said that it scares me, but that’s not true. It excites me, really. Has me thinking about topics to explore. And I already have about one tenth of the material I would need already written. Of course, the chemical reaction in the body to fear and excitement are identical. Perception is what determines what it is, so ... I’m excited.
We’ll see how that goes.
This next week’s assignment is to complete last weeks and to polish the next three chapters of Catch a Falling Star and three more submissions. And, of course, to keep up with Wayward Writers homework. If I have time, I’ll outline a few chapters of my new novel.
Take care, everyone. I’ll let y’all know how I did. And, in the words of Thoreau, “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.”