Wednesday, September 8, 2010

O(de) to Be a Writer

by Charlotte Firbank-King

To be a writer is common place; to be so obsessed with writing that you have to write every day is a burden, surely? But those of us plagued by this malady don’t feel burdened. We feel deprived when we can’t write. Now is that warped or what? Yet there are those out there who will be nodding in agreement and most seriously, too.
Once we have written the great tome, we look at it and edit it again and again and again.

Eventually, we are absolutely certain every comma and period is in place. There is not one tiny little typo left. What can be rephrased brilliantly has been done. We sigh and caress it once more with a confident eye.

Just a quick glance, though.

There is a comma missing!

Panic sets in, and such is the paranoia of this breed of writer that we will edit all one hundred and twenty thousand words. Again.

Although we’re pretty sure it needs nothing more than a proofread, we send it out for an edit. We wait with bated breath for its return, consoling ourselves with the knowledge that there may be one or two little typos we may have missed.

It comes back and we open the file.

The margin is riddled with comments and the text is marked with additions and deletions. First there is disbelief. An idiot surely edited this. Then anger. Our brilliant moments are labelled wordy or just too much. Then astonishment.

But as we get into the edit, we begin to feel energized. The editor was right—our character does need a hobby. Coin-collecting adds a new dimension to his persona and makes him so much more real. And the plot was slow in the middle. Adding a subplot with the brother-in-law adds appeal and gives credence to the ending. And yes, the setting does need a bit more description to take us right there, and yes, the reading is so much more interesting when we tighten the dialogue.

And so it is. If we open our minds to instruction and if we study our craft, we will become much better writers and yes, eventually, we will succeed.

Winston Churchill said:
Writing a book is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement; then it becomes a mistress, and then it becomes a master, and then a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster, and fling him out to the public.

(c) copyright 2010 Charlotte Firbank-King. All Rights Reserved.

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