Monday, February 25, 2013

All Writers Welcome Here

I saw some really troubling things said about writing on Twitter recently(wow, what a shock)and while I won't address each situation, I will say there was such a tone of elitist entitlement in the conversations (besides contradictions just to disagree with someone else) that I had to go over everything several times just to try and figure out what might be real and what might be nothing more that an attempt to rule the roost.

Who should want help with their writing? Who deserves the help? I have seen many writers start in fanfiction and move on to their own work, as well as some who stay in fanfiction and are perfectly happy there. I have seen many writers who say they only write for themselves and would never show their work to anyone else, but who still want to write well. Some of those went on to be published eventually. (We don't post fanfiction on Forward Motion but many of the members still write some. FM is just focused on publication.)

Learning to write well, for whatever reason, is never a bad idea. It might lead to better sells for published authors. It might lead to satisfaction in your work and better writing in other aspects of life. It might just be fun.

There's a lot to be said in having fun and learning things simply for the joy of learning them. I read more nonfiction than I read of fiction most years, and not simply for research. Learning to write better is not something only for professionals. Even if you are writing for yourself, shouldn't you want to write the material well?

Emily Dickinson didn't write for publication. She wrote for herself and only a handful of her wonderful poem were published during her lifetime. J.K. Rowling originally created her wonderfully inventive and fun stories simply to entertain her daughter. Should you cut them out of the list of serious writers because they originally didn't intend to publish?

Were people who wrote before the printing press, and maybe were not even published until after they died, not serious just because they kept journals and diaries for themselves? Would someone who wrote cute stories for her children not be a serious writer because she had no intention of sharing beyond that group? And of course, she should never worry about writing well, right?

Because if you are writing to please only yourself, you are never going to write well -- at least that seems to be an idea floating around. No one ever improved simply because they wanted to do their best for their own reasons.

Make certain the story pleases you before you present it to others? Apparently that's a bad idea, too, according to some people. You should only concern yourself with the reader. However, you don't know the reader, do you? You can't imagine what that person likes, unless (here is the trick people) you write for people who like the same sort of things you do. In this case, you had better make certain that story does entertain you first, right? Oh sure, you can try to write for markets that you don't enjoy reading, and you might even get away with it once or twice -- but it shows in the writing when you are not enjoying what you write.

So what about passion? What about emotion? Writing some nonfiction requires you keep an even hand and not bring your own bias to the work.

However, that's not true of fiction writing. Writing fiction without emotion makes dull work. If you cannot bring your own passion to your characters, you can't expect them to be more than . . . well words on a page.

I am still learning to write well. I will be seeking out answers all the rest of my life because I am never going to assume I know everything and I have found the one true way. I will work with all kinds of authors and hope to both learn from some and teach others, helping anyone who wants to do better. 
Have fun.  Enjoy what you are doing.  Your readers will love you for it.


Jade Eby said...

Thank you for this post. It was exactly what I needed right now. My problem is that there is sometimes an unbearable/overwhelming amount of information out there and everyone seems to have an opinion on how to do it right/wrong.

Ever since I was a little girl and started creating stories, all I've ever wanted to do is write the stories that were inside my head and share them with people. I don't necessarily want everyone to love or like them, I just want someone to FEEL something about my stories the way I've felt about stories from J.K. Rowling and my other favorite authors.

It's a hard, crazy world out there for writers...but sometimes it's nice to be reminded of the true reason most of us write--because we love it...because we cannot imagine a world where we don't write and fall in love with our own stories. Thank you.

Zette said...

Thank you for your comment!

We all have our own reasons to write and what we expect out of the results. I never expect everyone to love my work, but I still hope that some people will enjoy them. I began writing because my parents moved us constantly -- sometimes two or three times a year -- and writing became a way to stay connected to a place, even if it was only in my head. I was much, much older before I looked to publication, but I had been sharing stories with a few friends along the way.

Now I share with even more people, but it was not why I started writing.