#weekendcoffeeshare: Being a Writer is More?

#weekendcoffeeshare: I have Lost my Impulse
Image provided by Dave White
https://www.flickr.com/photos/mrdestructicity/

The Daily Post sponsors the #weekendcoffeeshare. If this is something you’d like to do, whether it be weekly like it’s supposed to be or the way I do it, once a month. You can get the lowdown about it at the link above.

In the past, I have written this post dialogue style as if I was speaking to you face to face. Be that as it may, I began to dispute the intelligence of this format. After all, who am I to presume what you will say or, for that matter, what you think when, in actuality, we have not had the conversation at all.

My ruling is I will write the #weekendcoffeeshare more like most other bloggers write theirs, my thoughts alone and leaving your response for you to fill in down below in the comment section.

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If we were to have coffee together…

…I would tell you how I feel about the less -spoken-about aspects of being a writer, those tasks I would rather ignore.

Most of the writer’s blogs I read have touched on the many facets of being a writer. I cannot say I have read them all, thinking I do not need to know everything right this minute seeing that I have not published for years. I have defended the belief I need to hone in on the writing itself until I have a final draft to send to an editor for the last time.

A short while ago, maybe five or six weeks, I began to ponder on the thought of me never getting anything published again other than the dribblings in this personal blog. The speculation was disquieting, to say the least. I am pretty sure I can do better, so I proceeded to do just that. That was when I wrote an article for an editor’s blog, Word Bank
Writing & Editing
, owned by Jeri Walker.

Sure, it is just writing still, but it was published on a blog that gets way more traffic than mine does. Additional, it had to meet the approved of an editor I admire.

After that small but significant milestone, I started visiting the social media sites more that I signed up with a long time ago. I cannot say I am enjoying these jaunts but I am trying anyway. This is the more I was hoping to put off for as long as possible. I do not do well with “small talk”. Oftentimes, I find it exceedingly trite and drudging. Yet, according to all those writer’s blogs, I must try to participate to get my name and work known. I know I will have to do launches if I ever get a book published. I know I should be available for book signings. However, this will only happen when a book is published. It is not an ongoing activity.

Another prospect or more I should consider, according to all I have read, is my own domain site. I cringe with detestation and panic at the notion of having to try that again. I had a good host site that even had 24/7 help by phone at no extra cost, yet I ended up with a site that, eventually, would not show up for anyone. I went through so many hours, both day and night, trying to fix it, endlessly speaking to representatives at the host site trying to get it to work. Can I go through that again? I have serious doubts.

An aspect [another more] I have not read about yet but probably will come across it eventually, is public speaking. I have been on stage but it was always with a musical instrument in my hands. It just sounds way too preposterous to me. I cannot imagine anyone wanting me, of all people on this planet, as a speaker for any kind of event. Yet, there have been a couple of writers who advocate this for their readers of their books about writing, exclaiming all writers should be able to speak well in front of an audience. Who are they kidding? Themselves maybe? I know some writers are extroverts. Still, I have a sneaky feeling most of us are introverts, at least to some degree.

When I took that mail course from Writers Digest at the turn of this century, it never entered my head that I would have to do anything out of the realm of writing other than book signings in order to make any progress.

Now it is your turn. What is your response to this? Let me know in the comment section below.

“You need three things to become a successful novelist: talent, luck and discipline. Discipline is the one element of those three things that you can control, and so that is the one that you have to focus on controlling, and you just have to hope and trust in the other two.” ― Michael Chabon

 

Maybe Self-Doubt isn’t Bad

Maybe Self-Doubt isn't Bad
Image provided by Bob Blakley
https://www.flickr.com/photos/blakley/

As of late, I’ve been coming across hoards of articles about how we should feel about ourselves. Writers are telling me in their blog posts about how to somehow feel marvelous when I’m writing, no matter where I am in my WiP, no matter what obstacles I’m facing. Feel-good web sites are giving me advice about how to prepare to feel terrific for the entire day. Some of them read like instructions to put a model together.

I’m not believing a word I’m reading. How can I? Writing is a passion for me. This doesn’t mean I’m going to feel spectacular whenever I sit at the keyboard though. For me, passion means I’d do whatever it takes to be in the process of a WiP, and to hell with how it may be feeling at the time. There are many days when it’s grueling. I’m having to puck each sentence out of my noggin and place it on the page next to the last period, all the while wishing the ideas would flow. And expecting to be happy for the entire day is ludicrous. Especially since I’m a writer with many issues. Life is full of ups and downs. To force myself not to experience all of it is making my life less than what it can be. I just can’t imagine myself going to the dentist with a beaming smile on my face.

One of my “big” feelings is self-doubt. I’m usually in a mode of questioning myself about something. With some, it’s fear that runs them ragged. Others live days in total guilt mode over something they really didn’t have much choice in. Mine is self-doubt.

Self-doubt isn’t reserved just for those of us who write. However, as a group, I’d say we’re the most vocal about this so-called flaw. You may not want to believe it, but executives of such companies like Sony, Microsoft, General Mills, and others have this same lack of confidence and esteem going on inside them. They just don’t tell anyone. Often they aren’t even telling their significant others, whoever they may be. I, as a writer, can feel this thing in me every times I put my fingers on the keyboard. “Should I say it this way?” “Should I say it at all?” “What if I changed things around?” “Would that work or is it just as hideous as it was the other way?”

About a week ago I was thinking about this flaw in me. It came to mind while I was reworking a character profile. I had added in arrogance, narcissism, and hotheadedness for this character’s traits, but I still needed to come up with why she was that way. Any therapist is likely to tell me that the person doesn’t see herself as being terrific, engaging, and righteous. That all those rotten qualities are a facade for what she really feels inside. Her not facing what she feels is what’s wrong with her. Instead, she acts out to avoid the underlying feeling[s].

What if I faced my self-doubt about my capabilities as a writer? What would I find? I’d discover what I already know about me. I’m atrocious with spelling and vocabulary. So much so that I will not write a single word without a dictionary and thesaurus on hand. Often I don’t word sentences, and sometimes whole paragraphs, in the right order. I do a kind of cart-before-the-horse thing in a lot of cases. My attempts to be eloquent are crude. I want my writing to be lyrical, but I know the instant I read it, it’s anything but impassioned. I have a lot to doubt. I, often, wonder why I bother to try to do something in the craft at all.

Yet, it’s these marrings in my skills that make me try to write every day. They’re imperfections I can try to alleviate, if not get rid of all together–at some point in the far future–maybe. Some I’ll never ever rid myself of, and I’ll just have to come to terms with those facts and trudge forward dragging them behind me.

The doubt I wrestle with is what makes me ask the questions that, once dealt with, will improve the process in my projects. Without this uncertainty snaking up, down, and around, entwining with the story that’s in my head, my WiP would, most certainly, end up flat, boring, and completely repulsive.

Of course, I don’t want it to take over my passion. Some of what I write is okay. Sure, not spectacular, maybe not even good, but passable. I dutifully give myself a kudo–not two, just one.

A blogging friend of mine has told me she likes my “no frills” writing. Well, that isn’t anything like lyrical, is it? So be it. I do like the thought of being one of those people who is up front, straight forward, down to earth. The “no frills” thing kind goes along with that. Still, the  apprehension is there, haunting me to do better. Kind words are fine, but what is in me still prevails.

Eventually, I’ll have to push this feeling into a closet somewhere so that I can get a real sense of how I’m doing from others–in particular, an editor, or even a beta reader. Nevertheless, this emotion does have purpose for me.

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Do you think of self-doubt as way to insure that you strive to be better? Or does it hang you up?

“A modern philosopher who has never once suspected himself of being a charlatan must be such a shallow mind that his work is probably not worth reading.” ― Leszek Kołakowski, Metaphysical Horror

 

Can You Pick Your Writing Voice?

Can You Pick Your Writing Voice?
Image provided by Aaron Morgan
https://www.flickr.com/photos/aaronmorganphotography/

I plunged into my weighty writing excursion in 2013. I’ve read article after article about all that’s entailed to hopefully writing a book with some sort of success.

One category of information pieces I came across early in my search for knowledge was centered around the writing voice. Several articles were advocating how to find, create and enrich this tone in a piece of writing.

I do understand why the word “voice” is used to describe the difference between one author’s work from another, even when both pieces are so similar, but there are some aspects about this element of the craft that I have a completely different perspective about.

First of all, I have grave doubts that the term, voice, adequately describes what this segment of writing is. I propose that the word to use be personality. This is what pops out to the reader when she or he dives into a book or some other written work. It’s even seen or felt with text books. Did a group of writers get together and decide on the term, voice, so they could feel superior to those of other careers? Were they telling people, “You need to have that special voice in order to be successful as a writer,”? If they had said, “You need to make your personality show in your work,” there’d probably be more people trying their hand at the craft. Let’s face it. Writing is speaking with seen words instead of ones heard. What a person says can tell another something about that person’s personality. The eminence of writing isn’t there when using the term, personality, for the simple reason everyone has a personality. Writing loses some of its lofty stature.

With the term being changed, a writer doesn’t have to find this element in her or his writing. Whatever that person writes is going to reek of her or his charm, nature, self, et etcetera. It just can’t be helped.

Creating a personality exclusively for writing? Can this be done? Possibly. I mean, the nicest of people who are actors will take on the roles of villains–and be successful at it. The most prude of actors will get in front of a camera and act unbelievably slutty. Still, it only makes sense that the basic psyche of the actor will shine through despite the personae she or he is portraying in the film or play. I assume the same is with writers. In my current WiP, my main character isn’t what someone would call a heroine. She a little off the wall and has some serious mental issues–the kind that create problems for others. Still, because I’m the one writing this character, my personality will be seen in her even though I’m not the type to let my problems get into the lives of others so rashly and without any concern.

I do think an author can enrich their personality for what is shown of her or him in writing. All human being change through the course of their lives. No one is exempt from this. What we learn through life’s experiences change us constantly, either for the better or the worse, depending on our perception of all these instances. This is one area where we can choose the angle in which we receive all this knowledge and how we will use it in the days, weeks, months, and years to come.

Does the basic personality change? I don’t think this is possible. However, I think the personality can expand and what was once an important aspect of it can switch to a smaller piece of the pie. As our knowledge increases, segments of importance shift.

With this in mind, I question the amount of ability we have to enrich our writing personality. We might just have to go more with the flow of how we change over time, both in our lives and in our writing.

All in all, no, I don’t think a writing can pick her or his writing voice. We can only accentuate certain qualities and diminish others. Even then, I don’t think we can be totally successful.

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“Be yourself. Above all, let who you are, what you are, what you believe, shine through every sentence you write, every piece you finish.” ~ John Jakes

 

The Prestige of the Writer

The Prestige of the Writer
Image provided by Aimee Fleck
https://www.flickr.com/photos/aimeefleck/

Writers are the same as everyone else. Some of us are wall flowers; others are attention mongers; and there are, of course, the ones in between. Some are straight-laced; others are totally off the wall; and, then like the majority of any group, there are the ones who arise to the occasion as needed.

I’ve heard it said that artists, whether a painter, musician, or a writer, are classified as “sensitive”, as if they’re so distinct from the rest of society. I’m sure there are some who are emotionally delicate, but there are sales people, accountants, iron workers, teachers, et cetera who are the same way.

I’ve referred to articles written by Jami Gold before. I love her no-nonsense attitude about the craft of writing. Approximately a month ago, she wrote about the ego of the writer. Unquestionably, I was already mindful of how the ego could help or hinder in the work. Still, see it written, roused thoughts about how the domain of the craft can evoke changes in the ego, and therefore altering the general attitude.

Can the weight of being a writer bend your basic characteristics? I’m still puzzled by the probability. I know I have changed in recent months and years because I’ve become so devoted to writing. If you are a writer, have you noticed any changes in yourself?

I’m not as likely to aspire to pleasing others as I used to be. Although I’m still a clean person to the point of being a neat freak, I’m not driven to appear as part of the majority of society anymore. Cleanliness and order have become more of a private preference. The need for approval of my person had diminished.

Does this mean the pursuit of writing has made me arrogant, lofty, and disdainful? I could appear so without thought to how I’m behaving or what I’m saying.

The role of a writer is generally knotty. The time spent writing is self-contained and with the only conversation being with oneself as he or she pounds on the keyboard or puts pen to paper. However, in order to get what is written to the reader, most scribblers must be social to some extent. For some, this comes easy, and I wish with my whole heart I was one of them. I, like others, find much of social activity difficult and sometime even trivial.

Yes, probability is I come off seeming aloof, and maybe even  pretentious. I don’t like the judgment, yet I do understand how people may come to this conclusion about me. Is this a possibility with you?

I do put on my “best face” for social interaction. I smile, supposedly at easy, and make appropriate introductions. I contribute to conversations, oftentimes asking questions because I know nothing about the subject being discussed. Still, much more often than not, I’m wrung out by the end of the event and can hardly wait to get where there is utter silence and solitude.

Does this reaction to social functions insinuate that I’m petulant or despondent? I wouldn’t be surprised if it did. I don’t like this deduction myself, yet how can I be anything other than who I am?

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Maybe I should be an accountant instead. Can I remember those classes about stocks and bonds? O_o

What is your take on the prestige of the writer?

“But this I know; the writer who possesses the creative gift owns something of which he is not always master — something that at times strangely wills and works for itself. If the result be attractive, the World will praise you, who little deserve praise; if it be repulsive, the same World will blame you, who almost as little deserve blame.” — Emily Bronte

 

Reluctance to Grasp

Reluctance to Grasp
Image provided by Nicolas Raymond
https://www.flickr.com/photos/82955120@N05/

In October of last year, 2015, I wrote a post that discussed the topic, Reciprocating Follows. However, I neglected to include any details as to why I pass by some of the blogs of my followers at WordPress.Com. I remember I considered a paragraph or two on these particulars, but decided it may appear a little callous. I let my inner coward get the best of me.

Has my spine become more durable within these last few months? Maybe, although I think it’s more a case of telling the truth as it stands. People are bound to find out the truth anyway, so those “little white lies” are a waste of time, as well as possibly chafing someone’s feelings to the point where a friendship is lost. Truthfulness with tact and as much compassion that can be mustered up will usually kept the rapport in good shape and bypass lies that are always impossible to remember or feel good about.

With this stipulated, why have I subscribed to blogs, in the past, that I haven’t had any interest in? I did it because those bloggers decided to subscribe to my blog. I skipped right over their notifications of posts sent to my email box, marking them as read and deleting them even though I barely scanned the first paragraph of the blogger’s entry. I agreed to follow their blogs as a kind gestured response to their decision to follow mine.

When considered with a realistic and forthright attitude, this behavior is absurd. I doubt most seriously I have any subscribers who are children, so they should be able to handle the concept of different preferences, even when they’re not included, right? Yes, there are those few who cannot get out of the mentality of “the even stevens” that may have been in place when they were young. I grew up with that philosophy too, but shed the material aspect of it and just kept the meaning in abstract. I do not expect all bloggers I have a subscription with to follow my blog.

The choices I make are what shape who I am. They make me an individual. I have some precise druthers when it comes to the subjects in the area of the arts as a whole. I find nothing exceptional about traditional paintings, unless it’s a Monet. My true choice is the works that are abstracts. Although I can listen to almost any type of music, except for rap, my love is with contemporary jazz. As with music, I can read almost any book, except in the area of hard science, but my favorites are in thriller and literary fiction. (Yes, they aren’t even close to each other, are they?)

As follows, I have my preferences in the blogs I read too. I want the posts that help me improve my writing, as long as the posts don’t get too repetitive in topic. I enjoy reading about the lives of writers; their hassles are often different from others experience. I appreciate some of the blogs that spill out opinions too. Despite this selection, I don’t enjoy poems usually, even though it most assuredly is in the realm of writing. If the blog, though is written by a lover of the writing craft, is all or even mostly poems, I’ll be passing it by, even with owning the book, Leaves of Grass. If the blog is all about being funny, with my general attitude being quite serious, the posts are wasted on me. Smut and questionable language in a blog never reached my hip-parade even for a glance.

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Sometimes I wish I was more unbiased with my choices. I’m sure I would be better read and cultured if I could broaden my scope a bit. Maybe little by little I can reach out more, but for the time being, I’ll continue to be reluctant to get a grasp on anything much past my comfort zone.

“No one should part with their individuality and become that of another.” — William Channing