Thursday, January 07, 2010

What works for one ...




I've had an interesting experience over the last few days on LibraryThing's discussion boards. In the Writer-Readers section there has been an ongoing discussion about creative writing classes. I've come to realize that some people can't see beyond their limited, personal expectations and can't understand that what doesn't work for them isn't totally useless and might help someone else.

Is this something that writers really need to consider and think about? It probably won't matter to the majority of them, I would guess. Except for the people who actively pursue trying to help other writers, it's not going to matter much. Or maybe it does, in one respect: if you are looking for information and answers in writing, never accept that one person has all the answers that are going to help you. What works for one person is not automatically going to work for another, even if they have similar likes and lives. You, as a writer, have your own views and needs. You are writing your own story, not anyone else's. Don't automatically accept answers, even from people you like and trust. Never accept easy answers, especially if they don't help you.

Why is it that some people think they have the only answer to writing? This last conversation isn't the first one I've had along this line. The number of people who think that if they don't like, want or need something then no one else should bother with it is really appalling, especially in the writing world. Insult the people involved and move on -- far easier than considering anything that might help someone else.

How can people write interesting stories if they have so little understanding of human nature? If they can't even comprehend that writers come in all types, with all kinds of needs, how can they see it in any other humans? Or is it just a selective blindness that allows them to think they have the answers and feel smugly superior in their own writing? Okay, I can even accept that part, because as writers we have to have some amount of egotism.

And it is easier to dismiss the needs of others, after all. Far easier to give some facile answer to cover everything (like 'critical reading' as the answer to all writing questions), and move on. But here I am with twelve years at Forward Motion and starting the tenth year of publication for Vision, and all of it aimed at helping writers. I know that what I've done has helped other writers because they've told me so. That counts for a great deal when you aren't doing it for the money.

And from the perspective of all those years working with so many authors, many of them very new to the idea of writing seriously, I guess I can say that I do have more understanding of the wide range of needs that writers have. I certainly don't have all the answers, though.
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3 comments:

D.M. Bonanno said...

As writers, we're aware of what makes and breaks characters, but often we don't see those same flaws in ourselves. So, while writers are faced with humanity every day, we're still victims of it.

:) Hope you're not losing sleep over other writers' flaws.

Zette said...

That is an absolutely excellent point about seeing flaws in ourselves or in being aware of the characters needs.

And I lose sleep over writers, flaws and all, all the time. FM will do that to you. (grin)

Margaret said...

Hear, hear. I was just making a similar comment elsewhere today. Things that are stated for "all writers" just make me cringe. If all writers were the same, then everything we write would be too. And wouldn't that be boring.