Author Topic: What does it take to be a writer?  (Read 16953 times)

Offline Cole Gibsen

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What does it take to be a writer?
« on: August 01, 2007, 08:10:29 PM »
OK, I noticed a lot of you on here are professors, journalists, or just over all have some basic writing education. I, on the otherhand, have none. Just a degree in business, so basically I'm wondering if I'm out of my league.
I don't know if some of you read this already or not, but I just received a rejection letter that called my writing amateur. I admit, I let it get to me. Now, this is the first novel that I've ever written, so I don't know if this is just a sign that I can improve, or do I just suck? :huh:
Now my spelling and punctuation are terrible, but I have a friend that's a copy editor and I always have them go over my work, but this agent in particular stated that I need to belong to a critique group, and the sad fact is I do! Maybe I should belong to more than one? Does anyone out there have any luck with on line critique groups?
And am I the only one to have one of these days?
May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind always be at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face,and rains fall soft upon your fields. And until we meet again, may no spiders fall on your head.

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Offline Patrick

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Re: What does it take to be a writer?
« Reply #1 on: August 01, 2007, 08:18:27 PM »
I have no writing education either, but I don't think that is a barrier to writing.  But it does mean you have to have a friend who knows all that boring grammar and spelling stuff.  (Lotheus handles all that for me.)

Senshi, missed you.  I thought you might have gone into labor or something.

Offline justwrite

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Re: What does it take to be a writer?
« Reply #2 on: August 01, 2007, 08:19:43 PM »
Believe me, Senshi, I have a masters degree in art and it did not teach me anything about writing fiction. Nothing I ever learned from elementary school to college taught me how to write fiction and I was an English honors student. I found I didn't even know proper grammar! I had to learn everything from the ground up. I do belong to two different critique groups. I should tell you the moderator of one of my groups is one of the most creative and gifted writers I know...and she has never even been to college. She has an agent, too. She had to turn one down. The key is to keep learning. If you feel you need grammar help, take a class. If you have the fire in your belly and the wish to learn, you should keep at it. If your critique group is not helping you to grow, then you need another. Both of mine have me nailed to the wall on a regular basis and I love them for it! I would never have learned to write at all if not for the composite wisdom of about 17 different women (no men, strangely).

And at least once a month I whine just like this. It's the writer's life, kiddo.


Offline audal

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Re: What does it take to be a writer?
« Reply #3 on: August 01, 2007, 09:50:16 PM »
I can approach the question from the standpoint of having had several years of "formal" training.  BA... MFA... BFD!  (can I say that?)

What I found was most valuable to me from all this education was a very small group of peers I could trust with critiquing my work.  Right from the start, I always wanted the criticism more than praise, and being in a group all angling for the same thing, I was able to find a few good ones.  10+ years later, they are still what I most cherish from my college days.

Which is to say... I do believe that readers are best friends going into rewrites and such.  But I don't envy your trying to find them - I myself have never approached anyone in an on-line group.  If you're comfortable doing this, I'd say go for it.

A writing education doesn't necessarily mean much when we're trying to reach the highest level - JustWrite's friend is a great example of this.  We are often shuttled through the educational system, invariably learning one method from one teacher, only to a year later be told by another teacher to forget all that we've learned.  Writing is tough to "teach," and I've found the professors I was most drawn to weren't teachers as much as they were inspirational.  They mined our young adult selves for untapped resources & extracted skills we didn't know that we had.

They didn't need to be teachers to do this.  Inspiration is all around.  You do not suck, you just maybe need a bit of polish is all.

If you truly want it, go after it.  Write in one long run-on sentence and then figure out how to fix it later.  Just let the ink... uh... toner... um... yeah, all of it, just let it flow!
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Offline justwrite

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Re: What does it take to be a writer?
« Reply #4 on: August 01, 2007, 09:56:01 PM »
nicely said, Audal.  :) Gave ya some karma.

Offline Diowe

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Re: What does it take to be a writer?
« Reply #5 on: August 01, 2007, 10:22:39 PM »
Senshi, justwrite and audal have already said it all and I think they're both absolutely right. I just feel compelled to chime in so you know how many of us empathize and understand - we've all been there and will probably be there again!  ;)

What makes a writer is the need to write. That's all. It's also what makes a writer a better writer. You love it, sometimes you hate it, but the need is always there. And because of the need you can't ever get it completely off your mind. And so you're constantly looking for ways to do it better. I've taken college courses (helped some), correspondence courses (helped some more), read how-to books constantly (helped even more) and joined an on-line crit group. My crit group has, beyond a doubt, been my best investment.

I found them through a google search and unfortunately we all found each other through a support group that no longer exists. But. I bet if you get on some chat boards (or even made an announcement here) you'll find a group that would take you in. Like justwrite and audal, I strongly recommend this. Not only for the give and take of learning and improving your craft but for the emotional support. :wink:

Diowe

Offline Cole Gibsen

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Re: What does it take to be a writer?
« Reply #6 on: August 02, 2007, 10:23:28 AM »
Thanks for all the positive words and advice, guys. I'm about three weeks away from giving birth and my hormones are all out of whack! :'(
I say this with all seriousness too, this forum has been the best thing for me, and I don't know what I would do without it. My internet has been down at home for the last week, and though I could have checked the forum from work, I couldn't bring myself to do it because I was so ashamed to be in such a bad state of mind. It's nice to know there are others going through the same thing, for way longer than I have, and still have such an upbeat attitude towards it all. I'll give everyone here karma for that!
ARCHON/NASFIC starts tonight and I'm going to waddle my way through the crowds into different panels and workshops. I think that's just the jumpstart I need to get excited again :)
May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind always be at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face,and rains fall soft upon your fields. And until we meet again, may no spiders fall on your head.

website: www.colegibsen.com
blog: www.colegibsen.blogspot.com

Offline Diowe

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Re: What does it take to be a writer?
« Reply #7 on: August 02, 2007, 12:05:41 PM »
What in the world is ARCHON/NASFIC? I apologize for my ignorance  :emb:

Diowe

Offline Cole Gibsen

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Re: What does it take to be a writer?
« Reply #8 on: August 02, 2007, 02:15:51 PM »
You're not ignorant! I should have explained, you wouldn't know unless you were from the St. Louis area. It's called ARCHON (arch-con, St. Louis, get it? ;D) but it's pronounced "Ar-con" and its an annual Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention. This year it's even bigger because it's partnering with NASFIC which is the North American Science Fiction Convention.
I'm more into the fantasy genre myself, but the panels and workshops are always interesting - plus there's always a storm trooper or two wandering around. I'll have to post pictures.
May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind always be at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face,and rains fall soft upon your fields. And until we meet again, may no spiders fall on your head.

website: www.colegibsen.com
blog: www.colegibsen.blogspot.com

Offline justwrite

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Re: What does it take to be a writer?
« Reply #9 on: August 02, 2007, 03:27:02 PM »
Hey..remember this..there's nothing wackier than a pregnant writer, than perhaps a perimenopausal one (me!). After witnessing a virtual pregnancy on my crit group and subsequent birth (not online of course!) we now learned a second member is preggers. She has a book deal and still beats herself up. It's getting crazier by the minute! (in a fun way) Now that takes real talent!  ;D

 :emb2:
Sorry to the menfolk for steering this to such womenish topics. Audal..I don't even know your gender! I think that's a stitch. Such an evolved person!

Yes! I love this forum..It's become my third (fourth? I do have an actual one) home.


Offline audal

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Re: What does it take to be a writer?
« Reply #10 on: August 02, 2007, 05:24:06 PM »
Audal..I don't even know your gender! I think that's a stitch. Such an evolved person!



Hey, that gives me an idea!  I should go adjust my profile & see how long I can perpetuate this genderless & evolved existence!

Thanks for the compliment... I think.
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Offline justwrite

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Re: What does it take to be a writer?
« Reply #11 on: August 02, 2007, 09:12:23 PM »
Okay...let's see how long we can go before you give yourself away.

Lotheus

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Re: What does it take to be a writer?
« Reply #12 on: August 10, 2007, 11:38:14 AM »
HAH!  I know, but won't tell...  You know, I am glad that you all have had good experiences with crit groups.  I think it is key that you get in with a group of people who are sensitive and like-minded, because if you get in with the wrong group it can utterly destroy your confidence.  One of the worst experiences I ever had was when Patrick and I decided to let his reading group read our book, and the opinions that came back were so varied that I was completely disheartened.  You can ask Patrick, I was an artistic mess for about a week until I fianlly decided that I liked my story, and I believed in it.  If you have that, then damn the torpedoes, girl.

One of the most important books of my writing life is The War of Art by Stephen Pressfield, and you know what he says about what a writer is?  A writer is SOMEONE WHO WRITES!  You have to commit to it.  You have to "go pro," as he says.  If you approach this as a hobby, then it is easy to put it off and make excuses, but if you invest in yourself the idea that you are a writer and a professional and are committed to your art, then it is much harder to bargain with yourself and cheat yourself out of doing your work.  Resistance is everywhere.  Read the book and you will see what I mean.  Resistance is the enemy, and sometimes it is great to have an enemy.  Anyway, if you are a professional, then you realize that your work is not perfect, and you will realize that one of the best ways to make it better is to do more work!  Practice makes perfect, my friend.  There's a reason that saying still stands.  If your writing is amateurish, who gives a f---.  The next one won't be, will it?  Chin up, and keep writing.  And we're all glad you're here.  We'll miss you when you take your maternity leave! :cry:

Offline audal

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Re: What does it take to be a writer?
« Reply #13 on: August 10, 2007, 12:59:22 PM »
Karma & ovations for Lotheus for (a.) the most excellent pep talk... and (b.) upholding my unintentional gender mystery, which I promise I'll maybe possibly consider revealing if properly motivated! 

I read something once.  "Anyone can be a mystery, it just depends on how they're lit."
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Offline Cole Gibsen

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Re: What does it take to be a writer?
« Reply #14 on: August 10, 2007, 01:55:12 PM »
 ;D ;D ;D ;D
What a great motivational speech. Thanks Lotheus! Like I said before, it's so nice to be surrounded with people going throught the same thing.
As far as maternity leave, I will miss everyone (as I imagine I will be a little busy for awhile) but I am sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo ready.
I don't know where everyone else lives but in St. Louis yesterday the heat index was at 110! :flame:
May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind always be at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face,and rains fall soft upon your fields. And until we meet again, may no spiders fall on your head.

website: www.colegibsen.com
blog: www.colegibsen.blogspot.com