Applauding and Humbling Budding Writers
I spent some time today Hub hopping and was amazed at the variety of articles and information offered in this venue. I love to write but do not consider myself a writer, I am a teacher by profession and as such I write to teach. I got into trouble once by telling a poetry professor of mine that I was a teacher who liked to write, when he told the class he was a poet who was a teacher. He felt I insulted him. It was not my intention.
As a teacher, I feel the need to offer a Hub which will start out with my kudos to those who have attempted to write good articles here and have made the first step towards realizing their "dream" to be a writer, but to admonish wanna-be writers to not forget they need to keep their day jobs!
Writing is a lonely art. Finding a niche is even harder. Everyone that writes believes they should be published and that their work is somehow different than anyone else's. This is rarely true. If we are lucky, we have spent a good deal of time reading other's writing throughout our lives and have some affinity for the style we admire and unconsciously mimic in many cases. I started by writing limericks in my youth after reading some hilarious ones my dad had penned for colleagues. Later, I did free style poetry during the age of Aquarius that mimicked the attitude of the day.
I enjoy being a literature professor and have my own favorite style of writing and reading. I would much rather read classics than anything modern. I do read some modern writers, but there are so many from the past that need to be considered, I read them first. When I teach creative writing I enjoy my students writing and am always surprised by the depth of the work, especially from those who really do not even want to write creatively! Seems to flow better when we are not attached to the outcome!
Some rather well worn advice to those of you who wish to write for a living. Don't. Write because you enjoy it. Write because you must write. Write as though it was something that called you to it. Un-attach yourself from the outcome of the piece, but do not forget to edit it. I have read many pieces of writing that could have been better (even written by myself) but the writer did not recheck it for errors or to see if it made sense.
Read. Read everything. I can always tell who is a reader and who does not when I read their writing. Readers cull out words that are descriptive, different and intelligent. Those who do not read use simple words that come across much like a elementary school child's book. Be open to criticism. Yes, I get it myself still!
Learn more vocabulary. Make a ten word list each week and learn new words. Or write down words you hear and find out what they mean and how to use them. Yes, look up the meaning!
Spend time in contemplation. Meditate, take a walk in nature. Sit in an airport or mall or coffee shop and watch what is going on.
Be proactive, not reactive. We all think we know everything. We don't. We actually know nothing. We need to at least remind ourselves that we are works in progress and we are not the wisest owl on the block!
I applaud anyone who is brave enough to write and publish anything here. I am the first to tell my students that half the battle is conquering the fear of writing publicly. Once someone deems you to be a writer, they feel free to criticize you more. You put yourself out there and people seem to be waiting for you to fail.
Emily Dickinson never imagined she would be read by countless students and poetry lovers. Ernest Hemingway was considered a mediocre writer when he was alive. And yesterday a new book was published posthumously written by David Foster Wallace entitled "The Pale King" which was left in scattered notes and rewrites and revised by the writers editor. Steig Larsson's novels made the NY Times Best Sellers List a few years after his demise as well....so it is never too late to be recognized....you just may not live to know it.
Finally, remain humble. Ego is a tough thing to stifle, but stifle you must. There is always someone better than you are or at least it appears so. Learn from their mistakes, and your own, and remember you, like your writing are works in progress.