Sunday, July 1, 2012

Why Write

Imagine standing in front of a classroom full of students and the name of the course is, “Creative Writing.”

Ask the question, “Why did you take this class?”

Now imagine some of the answers they would give to that question.

“For fun,” one student may say while shrugging their shoulders as if they have no idea why they signed up for the class.

That answer is one that we must agree with, but there are times that it isn’t so much fun, right? How about all those re-writes and editing, only to realize that your work and effort do not measure up. There are times when writing is not always fun and games. However, the rewards are cause for great rejoicing.

“It’s easy,” another student says while slouching down with a cell phone hidden under his desk. “It’s an easy English credit.”

Here you remind the student that there is nothing easy about writing, if done correctly. None of the arts, dancing, singing, painting, or writing is easy. They all require practice, drive, setting goals, practice, study, practice, re-working, practice, dedication, and did I mention practice? All successful artists of any sort have dedication, determination and spend years perfecting their craft.

A singer on stage didn’t hop up there from the audience unpracticed. A painter did not one day grab a paintbrush and create a masterpiece without first learning the craft. Dancers do not move with the music as if a part of it without first spending long hours practicing the steps. A successful writer does not one day decide to sit down at a typewriter and create a NY Best Seller without any knowledge of the craft, the industry, or the audience.

“I like to write,” a shy student on the front row of the classroom answers.

Now, there is a student with a valid reason for signing up for the class. They like to write. Write the answer on the chalkboard (oh, that’s right…today it is a dry erase board, or computer screen projector, or some other “board” in front of the class. Chalk is so dated).

I like to write.

Then you edit it: I love to write.
Then you edit it again: I enjoy writing.
Then you rewrite it: I have a passion for writing.
Then you rewrite it again: My passion for writing has become an obsession.
Then you get crazy: Writing drives me crazy and I must write!
Finally, you write with calm and deliberate ease on the board: I like to write.

That is creative writing. Writing stories takes us down many avenues and many different routes to get to the same basic thing: putting into words our passions, our feelings, our fears, and our ideas. There are many ways to say the same thing, but sometimes we have to get more creative.

King Solomon once said, “There is nothing new under the sun.” So, we must get creative in HOW we write it. That is why love stories and detective mysteries will never go out of style. People love them. Vampires? Exactly! Same old Dracula movies for years until…brand new sparkling vampires that we can love rather than fear. Vampires are as old as dirt, pardon the pun, but take an old idea and twist a new concept around it. Get creative.

So, why do you write? Why did you embark upon this journey down a road filled with detours, side roads, potholes, and road construction?

(I deliberately avoided the answer, "To make money" because that is not a wise reason for writing novels. As a member of the Starving Artist's Society, I know that writing for the money is merely a pipedream, a "winning the lotto" frame of mind.)

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