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What you do with what you’ve got.

the stick after he made art with it

the stick after he made art with it

the stick while my kiddo played with it

the stick while my kiddo played with it

Sometimes I think I need more talent, more drive, and more brains–as if I’m the first person in the history of inadequacy to feel that way. The most common thought is–if I were smarter, I’d know how to fix this (this being my writing).

Other days, I think I am not a disaster and I’ve done all right enough with what I’ve got. My writing may be weird, but it’s mine. I made it. I quite like it flaws and all. And then I worry–is that vain?

Maybe it is art. Maybe it is a bunch of sticks held together with 20 year old silver tape.

What skill (ability, talent, quality, thing) do you think you still need to take your writing from a bunch of words to the real thing? Or if you know that you have written the real thing (i.e. a finished, polished, ready for publication novel), what skill (etc.) helped you get it there?

14 thoughts on “What you do with what you’ve got.

  1. I think about plot, how other writers seem to have great ideas, twists, turns, interesting plot points, powerful sub-texts, sub-plots, sub-sub-plots, and I’m lucky if I can figure out what my main character’s primary obstacle is. I think about theme, how other writers work it into their writing, highlight it, augment it, make it sing. And here I sit, wondering what exactly “theme” is, how to do it, what the heck is wrong with me that I can’t even see it in classic books?

    I can say the same things about foreshadowing, building tension, writing dialog that provides important information by what it DOESN’T say, having tension that’s not conflict, characterization, etc. ad infinitum. It never ends for me.

    Just when I think I need to give it up because I’m not good at this, AT ALL, someone comes along and tells me I’ve done something amazing.

    The other thing I’d change about my writing is my motivation. I need better motivation, and more ideas. A LOT more ideas. Mine are pretty rare.

    • Perhaps more motivation would take care of the ideas. I find when I’m creating the more ideas I have–like the brain gets into the right place. As for theme–I never know what my theme is. No clue. I am able to talk about it some other books but thats because I was an English major and some of that stuff did rub off on me. But I’m not the best at it at all.

      Keep trying. That’s the key. Keep on.

      • I reckon I will. Nice to know I’m not the only one with only vague ideas about theme. Thanks for making me feel less alone and abnormal.

        And that’s not supposed to be insulting, so I hope to goodness it isn’t. 🙂

  2. I think I need better confidence. I look at my stuff, and I say, “yes I’ve got it.” and then you know what? I don’t have faith in myself. I don’t have faith in my conviction. I’m scared to be proven wrong or perhaps scared to be proven right and then have to prove it again and again. You know, then I’m committed to being great, professional, brilliant, blahbateeblahblah, and I can never make a mistake again.

    Perfectionism sucks. And thinking that we have to be somethng other than what we are.

  3. Is that vain? That depends. If someone can step back from their work and take an objective look at it, as though someone else did it, and find it well done, then it’s not vain. If you like it only because you created it, whether it’s good or not, then that is vain. IMO. 🙂

    Sometimes I think creative people forget something – there will always be someone who loves your stuff, hates your stuff, or finds your stuff “meh.” You will not please all the people all the time. And that’s fine. You really don’t HAVE to please all the people all the time.

    All any artist – of any type – can do is their best, put it out there, and let their work stand on it’s own. You can’t worry about it anymore. Kinda like a mama bird. Push the work out of the nest and let it fly. 🙂

    • Intellectually I know that I can’t please everyone. And it is fine if some folks like my work and some folks don’t. But emotionally, that is a harder lesson to truly learn. I mean, to take in a make it part of one’s daily life. Or it is like there is a certain person out there who I’m trying to please, and it can’t be done.

  4. My needs are simple:

    a) The ability to know the difference between editing and rewriting, and

    b) a suit of +5 anti-rejection-letter armor.

  5. To what Shelly said, I’d add “a sense of humor.”

    You know what else is interesting? The way I so often look at someone else’s writing and think, Whoa. I could never do this. I wonder if they know how good this is? But I get nothing like that from reading my own stuff. Either I need to learn how to use the same filter when viewing my own work or I need to work harder. Or both.

    • Once in a rare while I surprise myself about my own writing–did I do that? Really? And I mean it in a good way. Most of the time I read my own with disbelief–what was I thinking?

      Maybe a new filter would work. But don’t you already work plenty hard?

      • Plenty hard, well, maybe. It also may well be true that I’m working furiously away but not actually producing enough!

  6. Pingback: Private Writing vs. Public Having-Written

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