Thursday, December 31, 2009
What I've learned in 2009, Part 4
The greatest lessons I learned in 2009 was that good writing comes from the heart. I spent a good part of the last month discussing contradictions that aspiring writers come across. There are plenty of them, but do they really matter? To an extent, yes. But the most important thing about writing fiction is that it has fire. The rules are secondary. In other words, I've learned not to sweat the small stuff, but to embrace the fire within in me and try to transfer that passion onto the page. Now I'm not saying to throw the rules to the curb, but you should learn when to break them--learn when to let your passion overpower them. A couple of months ago, I did a series of posts on The Fire In Fiction by Donald Maass. This book truly changed the way I approach writing, and I have to say that it is the best book on the craft that I've ever read. I highly recommend it for any writer at any stage of the game. The series can be accessed by clicking on The Fire tag in my sidebar. Here is the first of these posts: As I mentioned yesterday, last weekend, I read two books on the craft of writing by literary agent Donald Maass: Writing The Breakout Novel and The Fire In Fiction. Both were excellent reads, but I'm going to focus these discussion on The Fire In Fiction. In this book, Mr. Maass points out that there are no truly original ideas. "Every novel has antecedents. Every author has influences. It is impossible to be wholly original; even so, some novels feel fresh and shake us with their insight." So, if this is true, what makes the difference? Look carefully at that quote. Mr. Maass states that 'Every author has influences.' That, my friends, is where the fire comes from. It doesn't come from the plot, the characters, the setting, or the voice. It comes from the author's passions, which have developed over time because of life experiences. How do we find that passion within ourselves and transfer it to our writing? This is exactly what Mr. Maass answers in The Fire In Fiction. He talks about two types of writers: the status seekers and the storytellers. The status seekers start out with all kinds of passion, the main goal being publication. They settle for good enough. This kind of passion fizzles out over time. The storyteller, on the other hand, has one goal at heart: making his novel the best it can be, and each successive one even better than the last. This passion never goes away. I think, it's possible to be a little of both. Don't most of us writers dream of the day we will be published? Of course we do. But this can't be our only motivation. We have to strive to become better, stronger writers, and we have to be passionate about the art of writing, not just about the dream of publication. I'm guilty of being a status seeker at times, but I want nothing more than to be a storyteller. What about you? What kind of writer do you want to be? This is obviously my last post for 2009. I'll be back next week to talk about what I hope to learn in 2010. For now, my good blogging friends, Happy New Year!