Wednesday, October 6, 2010
The Businesslike Writer
It has long been the misconception of beginning writers that they belong firmly in the camp of art and literature. Spending a decade or two up to one's ears in word-processing programs, broken pencils, scribbled drafts and rejections slips, together with a swathe of publishing credits and awards, soon teaches a writer what it's really all about.
It's about practising, failing, and starting all over again. It's about sending a draft to one's readers, having strips torn off it, and starting all over again. It's about discovering a big hole in a plot during a discussion about your 'next book' with a friend or two, and having to start all over again.
Regarding all this in a businesslike way is the most rational approach. Even tennis and golf require frequent practice: pros will tell you about their day with a bucket of balls. A businesslike writer ought to be able to describe a similar day with a bucket of past participles, sub-plots and secondary characters. They ought to be able to swing a backhand easily using only 5 double-spaced pages and two adverbs.
Eliciting passion and excitement is indeed the job of writers, but they cannot do it by being impassioned and excitable... not while they are writing, at least. It takes about as much control, incisive choice of words, precise deliberation, and concerted effort to write a passionate scene that actually works as it does to play a successful piano concerto. One or two tries are simply never enough.
The businesslike golfer is the practising golfer: the one who out-competes the rest. The businesslike piano player is the one whose dogged determination and persistence win her that audition to play at Carnegie Hall. The businesslike writer is the one who re-writes Chapter 17 about 15 times, scraps it, and starts again.
What - talent has nothing to do with it? Artistry? Aptitude... your gift? Er... yes! But without being businesslike, without turning away from the dream of glittering prizes without application and determination, without strict discipline, and the willingness to start again, they are nothing.
Posted by Rosanne Dingli at 4:38 PM