#writingcraft: Was It Too Simple?

As the post of the first week of the month, I’m ascribing the Twitter hashtag, #writingcraft from here on out.

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Was It Too Simple?
image by Gordon Wrigley
https://www.flickr.com/photos/tolomea/

Two months I wrote about the possibility of getting worse at the craft of writing. I thought my solution was to take a basic grammar class. I do believe I deluded myself. The course started out with the elementary aspects. I thought it would rush along to topics of a naive writer, like what words are more appropriate than others in certain content. Contradictory to my assumption, it stayed focused on the fundamentals. It wasn’t at all what I was looking for. Maybe I just need to open my style book more often.

After discovering the frivolousness of that course, I took another look at some of the unfinished stories I had tucked away in my cloud. My presumption about these works was I was overwhelmed about how to proceed with each of these stories. I thought I had so many ways to go I had gotten totally perturbed and rattled.

Now, my hunch is swaying me completely the other way and even onto a different path. Maybe what I was experiencing wasn’t overpowering dumbfoundedness from complexity. Maybe it was aversion for the stories themselves to the point where my reluctance to go on with them was what was overwhelming. Concededly, there were a few twists in these stories, however, they didn’t take the main character off the beaten track. It was more of a case of move that branch or throw that rock out of the way. Boring stuff.

Sometimes understanding why I have an emotion is more baffling than the emotion itself. I’ve come to know the feeling of being overwhelmed quite well. My thoughts become muddled. I start having problems deciding about unrelated issues as well as the ones pertaining to the matter at hand. I know I must just stop what I’m doing and try to make my mind a blank. I must step away from whatever it is that is causing the feeling of spoil to surge through my veins.

I can’t even peek at those stories anymore, at least for a long while. I went back to reading my classics, Jane Austin and Charles Dickens. I was hoping to get inspiration from these two authors. Believe it or not, it is helping.

A few of weeks ago, February ninth, I posted an article about changing what or where I write. It was after writing that post I went to Amazon to find some more classics to read. So many of they are completely free there if I get the eBook version. There isn’t any shipping or handling fee either.

Reading about history in a fictitious form has me brainstorming about an idea for a story where the setting is in the past someplace. The concepts I’m coming up with are arduous and elaborate for the characters. Well, so far they seem to be, anyway. They’re more mixed than anything I’ve written before.

Who would have envisioned me going for something more entangled, more involved? Certainly not me. Yet, it just seems to be the appropriate path to take right now.

Have you ever gone for the path covered with debris, sharp turns, and detours?

“Good writing is good writing. In many ways, it’s the audience and their expectations that define a genre. A reader of literary fiction expects the writing to illuminate the human condition, some aspect of our world and our role in it. A reader of genre fiction likes that, too, as long as it doesn’t get in the way of the story.” ― Rosemary Clement-Moore

 

Worse at the Craft

As you can see, I changed the colors and head image of my blog again. My only explanation is I get bored easy. Those who subscribed to my monthly newsletter knew about this permutation last Friday. If you’d like to know of my arbitrary flashes first, sign up for this newsletter in the sidebar.

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Worse at the Craft
image by Christina Xu
https://www.flickr.com/photos/crimsonninjagirl/

Is it possible to get worse at the craft of writing?

It is said, quite often in fact, that a person can improve at whatever he or she does by practice. This means doing whatever it is repeated day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year.

There was a time when I sincerely believed in this. When I was an elementary school child, I took piano lessons. I practiced every day for thirty minutes. I did get more proficient at it to the point where the nervousness of the recital was minimal. In upper elementary school going all through junior high school and senior high school, I spent hours learning how to play the flute. Not only did the anxiety of performing in front of others become infinitesimal, I also entered into local and state contests, winning a blue ribbon in various categories.

I’ve written more in the past decade than I have all those years before since grade school. Yet, when I read what I’ve written in these past ten years, my conclusion is I’ve regressed.

How can this be?

It could be I need a refresher course in the basic rules of English. My style is okay but not what I would consider terrific, by any means. I break the rules as I see fit, which may not be the best way to write. True, I read about how it’s okay to do away with some of the rules for the sake of the story but maybe I’ve gone too far. After all, the rules were created for a purpose. Moreover, I could take a course for free. There are several websites offering free basic grammar classes, yet I’ve chosen to ignore them.

It could be I’ve become so accustomed to writing like I speak. My speech is full of jargon and clichés. Of course, this means my writing is full of this junk too. So many people I have contact with are writers and 95% of that contact is through the internet, which means my language is also tarnished with terms that aren’t usually read in the books I prefer to read and write. Yet, looking at my WiP, I readily see these terms that, I’m quite sure, would turn the stomachs of readers. The people I converse with by phone or in person are usually family. I don’t adjust my speech for them.

Yes, I do believe a person can become worse at the craft of writing. The dissatisfaction of my efforts is enormous these days. The impediment my laziness has caused is abominable.

My solution is to go ahead with a free writing course. I’ve signed up to take a course at openlearning entitled Scribble: Writing for New Writers. It’s self-paced so it doesn’t interfere with anything. I know some of the lessons will be repetitive for me, so probably a little tedious. Still, I’m hoping to unlearn bad habits I’ve gotten into during these years.

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How would you judge your writing skills these days?

To be a writer is to sit down at one’s desk in the chill portion of every day, and to write; not waiting for the little jet of the blue flame of genius to start from the breastbone – just plain going at it, in pain and delight. To be a writer is to throw away a great deal, not to be satisfied, to type again, and then again, and once more, and over and over….
John Hersey [from THE BRAINSTORM GALLERY]

 

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