Friday, November 29, 2013

Writing is Perilous

And I'm talking more than just paperclips.

In fact, in all the years that I have loved writing, I have never received a paper cut from my work. So there is something else dangerous about it.

It's this: it seeps into every part of your fiber. And you can't get rid of it.

Case in point: I'm now having dreams about submitting my work to professionals. It goes like this: I get the head guy of an agency really excited about my work so he asks for a sample. Which is fantastic and I run to my computer, which happens to be in my parent's driveway. But no matter how hard I try, I can't get my document to open, then I can't get it to print. And the crabby secretary from the agency is staring at me out the window of her office with evil eyes. And that makes me nervous. So I get sweaty palms and I can't make my computer work and that makes me nervous and I get all flustered. Finally, it's been like 5 hours and I'm at my wits end, when the head guy comes back up to me and says you have 10 minutes. We close soon. I'm racing. Yes! The computer is on and open and will print--when I run to the printer, and there is no paper.

Ahh, it's everywhere….

To further my point, I have two other specific areas where being a writer is ruining me.

1) Everywhere I look, I find great examples. For instance, I watched Tangled with the kids a couple weeks ago and noticed that Max, the horse, is a brilliant character. And I started to think about how I would write him into a story. And I spent the rest of the movie paying attention to the shift of his eyebrows or the way that he jutted his lower jaw and wondering how I could write that picture out on paper. When I read, I note words or sentence structure or grammatical structure that strikes me as brilliant, moving, creative, disrupting. I may occasionally even jot down a couple notes. I can't just read without noticing anymore.

2) And this point is much more damaging. As a writer, I have an impossibly hard time teaching writing to my kids. Maybe there are other writers who don't have this issue--but I am teaching the basics: how to construct paragraphs and essays and use creative words and such. Currently, I am advised to have them add -ly words and use all kinds of devices to improve the quality of their work. Which is fantastic. Except that my rules, for writing fiction, aren't theirs. For instance, no -ly words. No 'quickly', 'quietly', 'tenderly'. They have even helped edit these words from their work. And now, they're insisting that they don't need them either. Ahhhh!! (Yet, they write some pretty great stories and are no longer afraid of my editing pen!)

The peril is real, my friends. And with a wink in my eye and a smile on my face, I extend my hand to you. Come join me in this perilous life--where there is beauty on the blade of grass, joy in the rising sun, sorrow captured in the souls of the broken.

(And if you don't want to write, I will gladly bear that burden for you!)

From Ms. Dorothy Parker  "If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favor you can do is present them with a copy of Elements of Style. The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they're happy."

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