Tuesday, November 15, 2011

How serious are you about writing?

When I first started submitting short stories to various contests I didn't win but did receive critiques of my work by established writers. One of the comment that struck me the hardest was one that read. "Here is a guy who is going to get real good real fast but, he must first get serious, put in the effort and learn his trade.
But he was right. Writing is a trade  that requires time and effort. From my experience it usually takes 10 years (that's right 10 years!) before you've found your writing voice and the skill to effectively communicate it. As an author and publisher people often ask me to publish their novels. I tell them no. Why? Because a real writer has taken the time to do the preliminaries. They know what type of books you publish, they know how to write a query letter, they know how to market their work, they know the BUSINESS!
Like most authors you look back on your early work and cringe. Yet at the time you were convinced it was a work of unmitigated genius. I often compare becoming a successful writer to becoming a professional baseball player. First and most importantly, you must have talent. Without it you're wasting every body's time. Secondly you must learn the skills to properly harvest that talent. Young baseball players are send to the minor leagues to hone their abilities, you as an aspiring novelist needs hone yours as well. Take a class on proper grammar and structure, join a writer's group and most importantly develop a thick skin because it is the critic's job to point out your flaws and mistakes, usually as hurtful as possible.
This is how we learn. So, if you are indeed serious about becoming a writer, then write every possible moment, have that work critiqued, learn from the criticisms and make the proper adjustments. Here is an important point. If you read your story in front of an audience and they don't understand it. They are not at fault, you are. As the writer it is your responsibility to craft your writing in such a way that anyone, perhaps even a well trained dog can understand it.