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By: Wayne Brown
Just under ten months ago, I can remember pressing that button for the first time to publish my first submission on HubPages.com. I did it with a lot of fear and embarrassment. I felt like a musician performing in front of others for the first time and wondering if I was not good enough to run with this pack. Was I only kidding myself? Would people laugh at what I had written even though it was not written in that way? All these thoughts came rushing forth and for a few minutes after I pushed that button the first time, I really wished that I could “un-push” it and get my story back safely hidden in my possession. That was ten months ago. With the posting of this writing, I will press that button again and this time it will be for number 300.
I have never participated in the income side of this writing effort nor have I joined in any contests like “30 hubs in 30 days” but I suppose if you do the math you will see that I have averaged over 30 hubs for 30 days for the last ten months now. So, it wasn’t that I was incapable of doing 30 hubs in 30 days, I just don’t care much for contests. I write more on inspiration that on goal I suppose. I never really gave it much thought. Actually, I wanted to be able to play the guitar really well and sing but apparently God decided that I should write. It took me a long time and a lot of guitars to figure that out but I finally did.
I have certainly grown since I started writing here on the Hub. I do not know that I am a better writer than when I started but I do know that I am more certain of my abilities now than at that time. I also know that my judgments about what I write are not always the best ones. Many times over I have been wrong as to how a particular piece would be received. The reader has a very different perspective than the writer and as a writer I have learned to trust the reader. That is a difficult step sometimes because, as a writer, you feel very exposed. No matter how many good things I have written, it seems like my credibility always rides on the next piece of work.
I remember hitting the wall at around 30 postings on the Hub. It seemed that I could not get my creative juices flowing. I almost quit. Luckily, I was saved by some of the friends I had made in the short time that I had been on the Hub. I received much encouragement to hang on and keep working at it. At that point, I could not imagine writing 50 items and certainly had no idea that I could reach the 300 mark. That encouragement kept me going and I have never forgotten it.
In my effort to break out of my slump, I discovered something very important that would help me greatly over the next few months. I discovered that I had been writing in my “comfort zone”. I was not going outside the lines or using other colors in my big box of crayons. On the one hand, I told myself that I was suffering “writer’s block” but on the other, I was making all these rules about what I wrote about and how I wrote about it to the extent that I was boxing in all my inspiration. That realization taught me a valuable lesson but it was a lesson that did come with a lot of challenge as writing outside of one’s comfort zone does not come easy.
I made an effort to try new things. I had some political savvy so I began to ply my hand at a few political pieces. These came heavily from inspiration as I watched some of the political issues of the day play out and looked so hard to find something of common sense in the decisions that were being made. When I could not find the rationale, my juices as a writer were flowing like a rain drenched creek. It was not something I wanted to write; it became something that I much needed to write.
I could say that I learned to write poetry here on the Hub. I could say that but it would not be true for I still know nothing about writing poetry in terms of the mechanics and technical aspects of it. What I did was gain the courage to in essence, “play by ear” and express myself in poetic verse. So much of what is written poetically is not always transparent and purposely so in many cases. A given poem can have so many meanings for each reader. At the same time, I have encountered many poems over the years which for the life of me I could not decipher. Thus my fear of verse, especially with me writing it! But I gave it a shot anyway with the promise that I would always attempt it in a manner that would give the reader a very clear idea of what I was saying and how I wanted them to feel about it. I suppose it worked over time as I have certainly received my share of compliments though I see myself merely as a “lemonade stand poet”.
As time passed, I began to tackle more and more subjects both in storyline and in verse. If I had an inspiration I tried to go with it. My inspiration normally flows quite freely so after I have written the first few lines, things come very fast and fit together quite easily. If I struggle greatly with it, I know that something is just not right with the idea and I have to revisit it. Often, when I return, I discover that I am coming at the subject from the wrong angle. I change the perspective and it suddenly falls into place.
Often, like a songwriter, I just have a “hook line” or a catch phrase. Sometimes I just write a single first line with no thought as to where it will go but waiting to see if it takes wings and flies. This is what I call “letting my imagination go” and it has worked quite well in a number of pieces which I have posted here on the Hub according to the readers anyway. In that light, I would not say that I am a “structured writer”. I am not saying that structure is bad but I will say that too often I have read articles in which the structure and mechanics of the writing far overshadowed the content. When that happens, the writer loses even though proper techniques were used. There has to be a balance of discipline with content; quality with content, etc. etc. if one is to grab and hold the reader’s interest for any length of time. This is the balance that all good writers must ultimately achieve. Not that I am necessarily saying that “I am a good writer” but simply saying that I recognize that need in the writing skill.
I cannot stress enough the value of friendship and support that is evident here on the Hub. I certainly would not be at this particular juncture had it not been for the encouragement and support that I have received from fellow writers here who review my submissions and provide feedback. They, more than anything else, give me the courage to go outside the lines and try a new area or subject. I can think of no other way to gain confidence and grow skills than to have that feedback. Can you imagine writing alone in solitary for years and years with no one reading it and providing feedback? I believe there is a stage that every writer goes through in which they lack confidence in their work and are reluctant to share any with few if any others. While that fear is understandable, sooner or later, one must come to the conclusion that you cannot be a writer and not share what you create. It is that sharing that validates the skill and the artistic abilities of the person creating the storyline or verse. Every writer must drive through that fog and get to the other side with the courage and the confidence to believe in themselves and their work.
In that respect, the Hub is absolutely a remarkable place to work through to make those desired gains.
In the past three hundred hubs, I have written about a large number of political issues like illegal immigration, healthcare, taxes, voting, historical events, and the gulf oil spill. I have written fictional stories of dark subjects, science fiction, human interests, musicians, western subjects, and humor. In verse I have tackled humor, nature, beauty, women, love, heartbreak, outer space, the moon, and even the kitchen sink and a brick. In reviewing the subjects, it suddenly dawns on me that I could have another inspirational wall in my future real soon. No doubt, I will but I don’t worry about that anymore because I know that I have friends here who will help me work through it and encourage me to continue on in some manner. Just knowing that brings a lot of inspiration to me to keep trying.
Those of us who write do it for a variety of reasons. For some, it is a very methodical approach to earning some extra income. For others, it is about creativity…taking nothing and using your imagination to turn it into something others can appreciate. There will always be that group that is looking to find their own self-confidence, their own sense of artistic expression and the courage to express it. There is an old adage that states “there is a book in all of us just looking for a way to get out.” That is likely true yet most folks never hear the call and many of us who do spend a long time gaining the skills necessary to write that really good book. My sister, who is one of my biggest fans, always reminds me that one of her favorite authors, John Grisham, sold his first books out of the trunk of his car. She always tells me that she dreams that she will help me sell my first that same way. I sure hope she is right but first I have to find that book within me.
Writing on this site has done much to affirm my confidence in others and I constantly marvel at the talents they display in their writings. There is hardly a day that goes by that I do not come across a new writer with a new subject and a new twist on thing. It may be a poet who can find just the right words and phrases to paint a canvas in the reader’s eye, or it may be a storyteller who can put me right there amidst those things so vividly described in the writing. Each one makes you want to find a little more yet for the size of this pond of roughly 150,000 writers, one realizes very quickly how easy it is to go unnoticed. I suppose that gives meaning to that “fifteen minutes” of fame that all of us supposedly have at one time or another in life.
Here’s to everyone who reads and encourages my work and here’s to 300 more hubs in the coming months. Thanks to all!
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