Being A Writer, by Belinda Sadek
I’ve always been a writer. Some people cook fairy cakes or make beautiful family memory books or take photographs that in one image tell a whole story. I write. Words are my ingredients, my paints, my lens. I have been a writer of birthday cards, work training manuals, love letters, magazine articles, school notes, invitations, reports….life has made me a writer. I know I am a writer because of the precision I ask of myself when I create these writings no matter how commonplace the project.
Then there is writing for the joy of it. It is like licking the frosting off the cake. There is nothing more satisfying than putting a sentence on the page and for it to express precisely what you intend and if it happens to lend itself a little to poetry and originality you have achieved all a writer can.
Once you experience this satisfaction it impels you to strive for it again and again. And before you know it you are a creative writer. Of course such sentences are elusive and the joy of producing them is tempered with the frustration of not doing so. And so you become a frustrated writer.
Somehow the frustration never outweighs the creativity or at least doesn’t do so for long and you find yourself persevering. And that really makes you a writer.
And there it is, the commonplace writing because life needs you to; and the creative writing because you need to.
It is strange to find myself writing about writing. I am doing so because I have been thinking a lot about writing lately. I have been thinking about the act of writing, about the elements of it, about the market for it and the social networking side of it, about finding the time for it and about daring to chase a personal dream involving it.
I have been thinking about writing because, as anyone who knows me would tell you, I always think before I act. Thinking is an actual part of the process for me. It is a necessary step to move me from inaction to action. What has prompted all this thinking about writing?
A book! I want to write a book!
Coincidently as I decided to act on my aspiration a friend told me about The Australian Literature Review‘s Novel Manuscript Development Program. I jumped at the chance to have professional feedback during the process of writing my first novel. What an opportunity!
My journey began five weeks ago (there are seventeen writing weeks in the course). The book I want to write has been bubbling in my head for years. (More about that another time.) But in examining the plot and in the initial writing it has become clear rather quickly that some adjustments have to be made. This is a steep learning curve. Here are a few more curves I have been scaling:
Fluidity- In this novel writing process I have found it helps no end to embrace this word. Take it as a vow. Use it as a mantra. Do whatever you need to keep the story moving, spreading. Make it run off the page so that the anti of fluidity – stiffness – does not harden in the arteries of your tale and kill it.
Don’t be precious – Ditch anything that doesn’t move the story forward. Ditch anything that slows the story down, yes that does mean all those lengthy poetic descriptions, settle for some well chosen, well placed, brief mood creators.
Dialogue – You need lots of it. The difficulty for me with dialogue is that I like to listen, I like to observe. Creating all those chatty characters is exhausting and somewhat against my natural way but then I hark back to my vow of fluidity and lo-and-behold my characters must be hoarse with talking too much.
It won’t be perfect yet – Speaking of natural inclinations another of mine is to make every sentence perfect before moving on to the next. I want to have created a masterpiece before sharing it with anyone. So here I experience another lesson in fluidity. Just get it out there. Get it on the page. Consider the first draft a framework on which to hang the flesh of your masterpiece. I read some of my mediocre writing, (writing I am presenting to others to read) inwardly cringe then immediately move on to write the next part of the story. Editing and re-writing will come later. This is a huge lesson in fluidity for me.
Get yourself out there – This is one big lesson I am still learning. Social media and mastering it is key. Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Goodreads, blogging, websites all provide an opportunity to get your work out there. This is a hard one because it requires a certain degree of spontaneity, a degree of tech savvy quickness and way less thinking than I am used to.
I have just completed the (rough) first chapter of my first book. Someone once advised me celebrate every achievement in writing no matter how small because the big achievements are hard to come by. So, as much as I am dying to type the words Chapter Two on a fresh screen and dive right in I am going to turn the computer off, go downstairs open a bottle of wine and have a glass with my poor neglected husband.
Fluidity and more fluidity!!