Ok…ok…ok…it was bull shit. I am not trashing the novel I worked so long and so hard on. I am finishing it. I left my day job and the time is now. I am setting up a writing schedule and keeping it. You should join me. Let’s not bullshit together. Octavia Butler once bought a fifty pound bag of white potatoes and gave her self until the end of that bag to either publish something or quit writing. I don’t like white potatoes. But I left my good-government-job with the benefits and great pay so its like a very huge bag of potatoes I’m walking away from so…the time is now. Shall we?
“You want to be a writer, don’t know how or when? Find a quiet place, use a humble pen.”
― Paul Simon
It is said that Zora Neale Hurston wrote Their Eyes Were Watching God in six weeks. Six Weeks!!!!!!! This is the book she is known for! So why haven’t I finished the novel I’ve been writing for the last ten years????!!!!! Sooooo…I am finishing this damn novel in this year! If this novel is not finished and through re-writes by years end, I’m burning it and starting a new one because apparently the one I’m working on is sh*t. That’s it. That’s my post. That’s my commitment.
Shonda Rhimes is the creator of two television shows that won Emmy awards last night. Twenty years ago that would have been beyond anyone’s imagination that such a thing could happen. Well, it has. You don’t see your story in the media? Well, create it. Don’t wait for someone else to recognize or acknowledge you. Grab the world be the ass and let everyone know that you are here! Write your own damn story!
Ever heard of the short and the long of a subject. Old people say it often: here comes the short and the long of it, meaning the entire story of whatever story is being told or generally the entirety of a thing. Well, writing has a short and long too. The short of it is easy to master…it’s the long of it that’s a bitch. Most beginner writers can master a few great pages. It’s the entire story or the entire book that presents a problem. I have several friends who can write a brilliant…four pages. Any story that goes beyond that is an incoherent mess. And there is nothing wrong with four great pages. Flash fiction is built on the short of it. But…if you want to make the leap to the long of it then you have to master the long of it. Practice. Practice. Practice. Learn to sustain conflict. Learn to write interesting characters. Learn the difference between plot and story. Learn everything you can cram into your head about sustaining drama, suspense, hurling towards climax, believable but challenged characters, the growth of characters, etc. Then incorporate these things into your writing. Be able to write the short and the long of it.
I recently heard an interview of Toni Morrison on Beloved. She said she wanted to tell this story of a woman who wanted to protect her kids from slavery so she decided to kill them rather than let them be re-enslaved by her former master. The story was a true story she had discovered in an old newspaper clipping. She said she struggled with how to tell this story so she decided the only person that could judge this mother justly was the dead baby and thus, Beloved was born. And then she said something that fascinated me…well all of Toni Morrison fascinates me but this was something extra. She said she considered how it must feel to have a mother that tried to kill you. The small things like eating her food and going to sleep around her. In that moment of listening to Toni, the essence of what we do occurred to me. It is these small tedious things that inform our work, that makes it come alive to the reader. Of course the huge, magnanimus acts are remembered but what connects us to our readers are those things that make us human. Fear, love, hunger, boredom. These are the very human emotions that propel our stories off the paper and into the readers minds. Because we have the same desires and inclinations in our own lives we can understand and relate to who people end up in dire circumstances that started very simply. That’s writing guys, that’s writing.
No Bullshit…no excuses..no tomorrow. Right now…right here. Let’s do this. The work…the re-work….the re-write. Your story here and now…get it on paper and finish it. No more talking about it or reading the same ten pages in twenty different workshops. No more running it past your friends, your family or your honey. Put it in the mail, put it in the e-mail…lean in. This is the year you shit or shut up. Are you a writer? Are you a writer dammit? Then shut up and write! Go For It! Lean In!