Now before you castigate me as an idiot, read a bit further.
I had the opportunity to read the writing of what was obviously a very novice writer. Now, in terms of craft, there was a lot to be desired. But in terms of energy, excitement, and joyful exuberance? The words and plot burst with them – more than I’ve encountered in almost any other writing. I could practically picture this young author pounding away in a frenzy on the keyboard. Nothing held them back, like plot conventions, rules, grammar. And compared to some other writing? I’d actually be more interested in their story because I have no doubt it would take me somewhere unexpected – even if it didn’t do it in the most conventional, or even readable manner.
What about your writing? How does it compare?
Kristin Lamb recently wrote an excellent post about the various stages of writing [view post here: Three Phases of Becoming a Master Author]. And for most of us, it leaves us in Act II, as Apprentices. It’s where we continue to learn, to shape our craft and stories, to come into our own.
And it’s where, if we’re not careful, we can end up chasing our tails writing stories that aren’t our own.
I’ve been writing for some time now, and I’m stubborn, I’m frequently more out-spoken than I should be, and I thought I knew myself pretty well. But I’ve realized, while re-reading a recently completed re-write, and enjoying new (and better) authors, that perhaps my story has become lost along the way. While it’s been a joy, a learning experience, and I’ve grown as a writer by meeting and interacting with other authors, perhaps I have let their voices, their ideas influence me too strongly, to such a point that I’ve somehow internalized outside ideas instead of listening to the stories whispering inside my own head, the stories that have always been there, always will be there.
YOUR story is the one that speaks to you. It’s in the characters that you choose, the plot devices you employ, in every decision about the story you – and only you – would make. That’s why while three-thousand people can write a story about a vampire, YOURS is still different, still unique. Because it’s in your voice, told from your point of view, with your unique, particular twist on it. That makes it precious, because only you can tell that story. And if you don’t tell it, it will vanish in the wind, gone forever.
Always watch that you’re telling your story. Absolutely listen to and learn from others – we can’t grow if we don’t. But also remember to listen to that voice inside, the dream that repeats on you the plot idea that has always been there, the character in your head that just won’t stop talking. And make sure their story is told, too.
As for me, I know what I have to do: I have to take only the characters and basic plot premise from a book I thought was pretty good – a book I thought I was done with – and if I want to save it, I have to throw away all the rest, and start again. To ensure that the story I write this time, is really and truly my own. Wish me luck. For truthfully, I’m a bit choked about throwing away literally years of work, but in the end, it will be worth it.
Don’t you think?
Thanks for reading, keep telling YOUR stories, and have a great week. Happy writing.