Labor of Love, Or Fool’s Errand?

What do you call something that is years in the making, gives you no immediate tangible reward, and  ultimately opens you up to widespread criticism?   Torture?  Or nirvana?  I call it doing what you were meant to do.

I once read about a math wiz, a savant, who didn’t know how he was able to do what he did–it was just a part of him.  To him, it was normal.  To everyone else, it was remarkable.

I can’t sing or write songs or draw or paint, and I’m smart enough to know not to even try.  But I can write.  Don’t get me wrong:  I’m no savant–at anything.  But I’ve always been complimented on my writing.  Whether a short story, a letter or a simple (to me) email, I’ve received unsolicited praise, but I’ve never really understood what the big deal is–it’s just me and it’s just writing.  So, I thought, maybe that’s my calling, and maybe I should do something with it–I’ll write a book.  I just didn’t realize the time and effort and sacrifice that writing a book would entail.

In hindsight, mine was a thoughtless leap of faith.  Just because you can string a couple of sentences together doesn’t mean you can make up a compelling story or write good dialogue.  And maybe I can’t, at least not well.  But I did enjoy the process.  Even though it took me years, without reward, and that now, it may open me up to ridicule.

My words are my brush, my keyboard my canvas.  Time to paint.

Write or Wrong

Can I start calling myself a writer?  Or an author?  Have I earned it yet?

Some background:  A long time ago, on an uneventful day at work, in the days of the poingo poingo of internet connections (read  as the internet was not readily accessible), I sat at my desk pondering a scene that had popped into my brain with complete clarity.  I mean, every sensory nuance of the scene, sights and sounds and smells, was fully developed.  And I didn’t know what to do with it.  So I started writing, evicting from my brain this complete thought that was almost painful to ignore until it was purged.  And what appeared on the screen in front of me was that scene, final draft, no additions, changes or rewriting necessary.

It was the opening scene for a story–a book–but I didn’t know where to go from there.  So I showed it to my wife, and after she read it (and initially looked at me as if I was from another planet), she told me to write the book.  She might as well have told me to jump off a bridge.  But naive person that I was, I tried, and it went fairly well–at first.   Then I got to that certain point in the story that I now know as the line in the sand.  That point in time where you think it’s all garbage and a waste of time and oh my God, what was I thinking?  And at that point you can either push through and have faith in your ability, or you can punt.  I punted.  I put what I had printed into a drawer, and moved on with my life.

Fast forward ten years and endless entreaties by my wife to start writing again, to not push aside those scenes of clarity that kept popping into my head.  And one day, once again, I just had to purge one of those scenes from my brain.  But this time, I decided that good or bad, I was going to finish what I had started, and the surprising thing was that each day that I sat down to write, new thoughts did come into my head, and new scenes and characters and new story lines developed from thin air (i.e. the recesses of my brain).

Everybody writes differently.  Someone once told me that I had to have the whole story outlined and every character’s profile fully developed before I could write the first paragraph.  Wrong advice for me.  Some people, like me, just sit down and start writing and somehow, a story begins to flow forth.  I may have some mis-steps, I may go down a path that ends with the worst thing ever–the delete button.  But that’s how it works for me.

So I’ve completed book one and I’m well into book two.  Book one is getting published–my way, which is the subject for another day.

Have I earned the title Writer?  Author?  Have I?

And Another Thing . . .

Steven Recht's thoughts and musings about . . . well . . . everything

A Newbie's Guide to Publishing

Steven Recht's thoughts and musings about . . . well . . . everything

Reed Next's Next Read

Steven Recht's thoughts and musings about . . . well . . . everything