I’ve managed in the last month to utterly fail at my stated goal of posting here more frequently.
Life happens, as it happens to all of us. I’ve become a more active volunteer with the Boy Scouts, taking over as Scoutmaster for his troop effective at the beginning of the year. ‘About an hour a week,’ they said.
Hahahaha. They suckered me into that one. 😉
Truth is, I’m enjoying myself and appreciate the opportunity to contribute to the lives of so many young men. It does take time, though.
The good news is that my writing hasn’t suffered the way this blog has. I’ve been able to write nearly every day, other than a short stretch surrounding a three-day canoe trip. Something has had to give, though, and this blog continues to be the thing I have to choose not to do when a choice has to be made.
The blog is good and wonderful and I like doing it, but The Work has to come first. This doesn’t ‘count for score’, though it does feel like it should. Like going overboard on research and never doing any real writing, ancillary activities can be as much of a distraction as the internet, or doing the dishes, or the World Cup, or whatever your particular procrastination of choice might be.
If we’re going to write, we need to write. Not talk about it, not blog about it, not world build, not anything else other than write.
When it comes down to brass tacks, ask yourself what it is you want? Do you want to write for the sake of writing, or enjoy the attention that being a writer gets you, or the fame and fortune that the celebrity writers get, and talk about the magic of your craft and your process and how you get your ideas and what kind of pen you use and how your muse only visits when the wind blows from the sorthweast and you have a virgin sheet of alpaca-hide vellum parchment in front of you?
Or do you want to go on about your struggles with writers block and have an ‘artist’s temperament?’ Or babble about the difficulties of maintaining the three-act structure in post-modern cinema and ensuring the beats fall on the proper pages of your screenplay?
I’ll tell you something, quite possibly the only thing I’ve really learned while I’ve been on this tortuous journey called ‘writing’, and here it is: None of that means shit. Jack shit, in fact. If you aren’t putting pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, and knocking out another few hundred words of your distopian fantasy or a few stanzas of your response to ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’, in iambic pentameter, none of the rest of it means diddly squat.
You either write, or you don’t.
If you wrote today, you are more of a writer than CS Lewis, or Tolkien, or Heinlein, or Asimov is today. They didn’t write anything today.*
But you did.
If you didn’t write, but insist on calling yourself a writer, ask yourself a question. It’s a simple question, but an important one.
Do you want to be a writer?
If the answer is yes then pick up a pen and write something. Anything. Anything at all. It doesn’t matter what you write. Just write. And like that, you are a writer.
Don’t wait for anything. Just write.
Will it be crap? I can almost guarantee it. But guess what? You can fix it later. You can always fix something you’ve written later.
You can’t fix something you haven’t written.
I have nearly 1000 pages of steaming horse dung sitting in my computer. If you concentrate, I’m sure you can smell it from where you’re sitting. I’m counting on the chance to edit and revise and rewrite to make it into something I might be willing to let someone read.
But first I have to write it. And then I have to finish it.
TL;DR version: Write if you’re going to write. If you aren’t going to write, but insist on talking about writing, shut up. I’m writing.
*The fact that the four of them are dead is completely irrelevant to the topic at hand.