Ten Writing Truths

I’ve been listening to interviews via podcasts and Youtube for the past two weeks and distilled some essential truths. I knew these but have never paused to write them down. Thought I’d do that today. Here it is, the culmination of a hours of interviews with writers, editors, and agents.

  1. There’s no thing such as writer’s block. I’d concluded that myself long ago but happy to hear other writers acknowledge that. What is often called writer’s block can be insecurity, doubt, a lack of self-confidence, uncertainty about where to go next, and anxiety about how it’s all going. It can also just be a mental pause to allow your mind to work things out, re-balance, and find the new direction. I never worry it, just monitor it, like a pot that’s boiling, waiting for the right moment for the next move. Meanwhile, I’ll usually work on some aspect of the novel in parallel. None of this is particularly novel to fiction writing; I had the same issues and followed the same process when I was in the military. Back then, it wasn’t fiction writing, but organizing my mind to create standard operating procedures, emergency checklists, operational plans, performance reviews, etc. The same methodology was employed as a civilian in my roles as a customer service manager, product manager, technical support manager, and analyst.
  2. You must write everyday. No, breaks ARE permitted. I once believed and fervently followed this. But it can lead to burn out and isolation. Like most things in existence, a balance is required for optimum results. Yet, admittedly, I’m addicted to the writing process. I love imagining what has happened and then chasing the question and answer to what comes next. I enjoy finding new ways of playing with phrases and exploring characters. It’s an entertaining escape.
  3. Having stated that I don’t need to write every day, I admit, though, that I’m driven to write fiction every day, even if it’s just to add one sentence that suddenly arrives in my head. I never stop writing in my head. I might consciously relegate the current novel in process to a lower priority for a period, but that is usually to permit my brain to address the story and arise with the answer to the question, what next? Besides, even if I’m not doing the novel in process, I’m typically thinking of other stories to write.
  4. Fiction writing is incredibly immersive. It is for me, but I think writing is a personal matter. How you go about it compare to how I go about it is bound to be different. This list won’t have the same items and slant for you as it does for me.
  5. There are so many stories to be written, it’s a boundless cornucopia of ideas. The challenge is that they all take time and other resources to develop and complete. Frustrating, fun, and never ending.
  6. No one else cares about what you’re writing when you’re trying to establish yourself as a writer. Pretty much true, outside of other writers doing the same. In my experience, if this is not true for you, you’re lucky. My family and friends will sometimes ask, “Are you still writing?” The question amuses me. Like, why would I stop? I’ve also learned that I don’t want to share what I’m writing with people when it’s in progress. Excited as I become, I don’t want to jinx it or milk the energy. Besides that, trying to convert what I’m writing, which is meant to be read, into verbal conversation plays tricks with the order of progress. Also, what I had planned often takes unusual spins, so where I thought I was heading takes detours and undergo changes. That’s okay.
  7. Writers enjoy talking to other writers. Absolutely true for me. I enjoy talking about the process with other writers. Some of that is venting, but I’m also interested in stealing ideas, borrowing habits, and attempting new methods. Unfortunately for me, I’m mostly an introvert, except when plied with alcohol, whereupon I become obnoxious, so going to writer conferences is hit and miss. Sometimes I find a groove with a group there but it’s infrequent enough that I shy away from them now. I did have a writing support group here, but the folks moved away. I considered Zooming with them, but we struggled to find a common time. Lot going on with their families…or so they claimed.
  8. Writing is a lonely space. Patience and persistence is required.
  9. Trust yourself. Given the isolation and solitude, this is probably the most challenging for me. I need to write and trust myself — but what if my trust is misplaced? What if I’m so far into my own words that I’m blind to what I’ve written. What if I’m insane and lack talent and ability and don’t realize it? Does it matter if I’m happy writing and striving to translate thoughts into tales?

That’s short of ten. Tell me your writing truths. Help me fill in my list. Cheers

Papafloof

Papafloof (floofinition) – Senior male animal who becomes the father figure for other animals.

In use: “When rescue kittens were brought in to be fostered, big Beau, the tough, menacing retired K-9 German Shepherd, became papafloof, licking the little felines clean, watching over them when they slept and played, protectively cupping them with his big body, gently guiding them with his enormous paws and snout.”

The Survey Dream

I found myself out with a crowd of people on a sunny day at a county fair. Rides were going on as music played. People were laughing, eating, and drinking. My wife and friends were with me. As we perused the fairgrounds, a man accosted us. “Would we be willing to participate in a survey? It’s twenty-five questions long. We’ll go over results later. You’ll be rewarded with tokens for rides, a free dinner, and drinks in another part of the fair later in the day.” Well, young and interested in free food and drinks and ride tokens, we agreed. A large group of us were given the surveys to complete and pencils. The survey form was a narrow piece of paper which turned out to be a small booklet. As my wife and I worked on it, we rode the Ferris Wheel. Multi-tasking at its finest, right?

The ride stopped at the top. I was writing an essay in answer to one question when I dropped my survey. This upset me because I was almost done. I could see exactly where it was on the ground. I also saw the man who’d given us the survey. Calling to him, I explained that I had dropped my survey and pointed out where it was. Could he get it for me?

No problem. He made his way through the crowd and around the rides to where I pointed. By the time he reached it, too much paper had accumulated there for him to find it. No problem. We finished our ride. When we reached the ground, I asked him and requested another survey. Well, he shouldn’t…but he did. I began working feverishly on finishing it in time.

Meanwhile, we’d moved toward the place where we would go over the results and get our free meal and drinks. The meal was a barbecue and I could smell it while the site was like an old television western set with picnic tables in a corral alongside a bunk house

Damn if I didn’t again lose my survey. This time, the wind took it into the corral. A split rail fence kept me from going after it immediately as the wind pushed it across dusty grounds. The survey man was with me when it happened. Laughing, I explained what’d happened and requested another survey. He was against this. Although he appreciated my enthusiasm, he was concerned that my answers would no longer be in the spirit of the survey because I was answering them so many times. I disagreed with his observation. That’s where the dream ended.

Wednesday’s Theme Music

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day! Welcome to Wednesday, March 17, 2021, where we’re donning green clothing, eating green food, and drinking green beer somewhere. I am wearing a green shirt, a conscious decision to celebrate. ‘Bout all I’ll do in honor of the holiday.

The sun showed itself at 7:20 AM this morning and is expected to disappear for the night at 7:20 PM. Brighter, sunnier, and calmer today, we’ve already crept into the low forties, and we’re expected to hit the mid sixties. This kid will be going for an afternoon walk.

Thinking of Saint Patrick’s Day, I thought I’d go with an Irish rock band. Many of them have plumbed commercial and critical success and achieved international fame and fortune. But when I started thinking of this, I recalled Horslips singing “Trouble With A Capital T”. I know this song and band because when I was stationed in Japan in the early eighties, a co-worker was heavy into them and would sing this song to himself. Hearing him sing it, I asked what it was. I ended up in his dorm room having a beer listening to the Horslips, who he knew through an Irish cousin. He’d gone to stay with them in Ireland one year before joining the military and had seen the band live. After some struggle with memory about the band’s name and the song and some net searching, I found this video.

Stay positive, test negative, wear a mask, and get the vax. Here is Horslips with “Trouble With A Capital T”.

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