Saturday, January 2, 2010
I've been wanting to write about aspiring authors and what it takes to become one. From my experience alone, it is NOT an easy thing. We are starting something from our own volition. It is a love. A passion. Something that stirs deep down in the heart of our souls.
We are like foot soldiers in battle. The first to struggle to maintain our own stance. The first to be blown to pieces. The first to experience drudgery. The drudgery of others' nodding politely with a cynical smile as you tell them your dreams.
It takes a platoon of strength to move on from the nonbelievers and hold your head up high and say, "I can do it." We especially need this fortification when we see our first works off into our alpha readers' hands. The ones who whip out their little red pen and start marking up all of our mistakes. Eek! I know the first time we see the bloody mess, our hearts sink.
Oh no! You may think, I felt so moved, I felt so clear and so sure, how can it be?
I know the pain involved when I first see all the mark ups. But there is still hope. The more battle worn we are, the tougher our skins become and the red mess on our perfect white sheets will be our badge of courage. It will be our strength to better ourselves and soon, we will welcome it for we know what comes after when we apply the useful comments. A gleaming story ready for submission!
Sometimes the comments can be destructive from those who do not know what they are doing. Once I followed someone's advice against my better judgment. Well, as I learned, it took me far away from where I should have gone. I had to start from ground zero. I put my novel back to where I thought it should have been in the first place. It is much better now.
As writers, we need to maintain a balance of what we feel is right as we listen to our critiquers' comments, but not to get our hearts tangled in the mire of confusion of self doubt! Remember that no one knows your story better than you. What they mark up is only opinion. If it doesn't feel right and you feel torn, take it to the Lord in prayer and then make your decision.
Another thing that I have found myself doing--especially after reading a self-help book on writing--is editing as I write. I wrote a novel so tentatively that is threadbare because of it. It is so skeletal because the rules kept biting me with every word I wrote. It was very destructive and made me feel inadequate.
Remember to try to write your first draft for the FUN of it. Let it carry you to those daring, fun, carefree places. Try not to think how odd it sounds as you write out that scene. Let it come straight from the heart! When you are finished, put it away for a few weeks (about 4-6) before you edit it for your critiquers.
A wolf cub is still a wolf and more so if it runs with its pack than cowering in its den. Do not be afraid to interact with published authors and feel that they are better than you. They were once where you are now.
Yes, it is an admirable thing that they have realized their dreams. Do not let them intimidate you because they are where you want to be. Let them be an example to you. You will get there. Let us be strong together and encourage other aspiring authors because without aspiring authors, the writing world will surely die. Never give up and lose sight of your dreams.
I would LOVE to hear your experiences (good or bad--be honest!) as an aspiring author and how it was for you if you are now published. :)