Originally posted to fb Feb 3, 2014

Posted: May 3, 2015 in Uncategorized

Flattery is the sincerest form of imitation.
Doesn’t make any better sense when you say it that way does it.
Imitation is imitation not flattery. Imitation can be a sincere (misguided) attempt to offer value and gain attention from someone you respect. Imitation can be a crass attempt to profit from some else’s ground work and research. And imitation can be a deliberate (even if unintended) insult that shows how little you value the other person’s work.
I grew up with artists. My grandmother was a painter, she pushed herself daily, the only time I can ever remember her not painting or actively working towards painting (ie the prep work needed before sitting down to paint) during the course of a day was her mother’s funeral. My father is an artist, my sister, and about half of my cousins. I grew up with artists.
I can art if I have too, but I don’t have the repetition of practice to draw, paint, frame a photo, or sculpt fluidly. I used to draw daily, dead roses and bugs, spider webs and abstract patterns approaching paisley. I enjoy drawing. I used to paper mache’, famine pigs, dragons, and ballerina puppets, and I would probably still paper mache if I had a couple of clones. I used to sculpt, fat lazy dragons, parasitic worms, and snakes. Weird fatagorasmistic snakes from nightmares painted pastel. I would still sculpt if I had time, space, and equipment. I’ve done woodworking, hardwood boxes and gilded picture frames covered in greek key and cherries. I loved wood working , but I can’t justify using power tools and dyslexia anymore – I really can’t. I used to paint, oils mostly, the way I was taught, storm clouds and rocks and broken boards on the beach. Again with the lack of time.
I took piano lessons for a decade, played the guitar until I was in my twenties, and sung. Singing is past tense, I still love it but a blown ear drum, dyslexia, and weak lungs means I don’t even try to sing in public anymore. I have higher standards than I can meet.
I do fiber arts, I spin raw fiber that someone else has labeled unspinnable and I see just how nice a yarn I can make. And I crochet from time to time. Both are for destressing more that art – craft and hobby.
And I write. Every day. I write fiction. I write non-fiction. I write poetry. I write plays. I write. I spin ideas one after the next shifting variables and playing with world building and plot limitting concepts. This is my idea of fun. I am told I make it look easy.
Ideas are easy. If you are creative in any way then the idea for something new should be the easy part.
“I want to write a story… about… a fisherman who gets knocked overboard in a storm and rescued by mermaids only to realize that they are aliens planning an invasion…. Scratch the mermaids, too silly… and rescued by aliens planning an invasion…. Why would they rescue him?…. retrieved by aliens planning an invasion and the interrogate him….. Why? He’s just a fisherman….. a sailor, scratch… a US Navy officer who get knocked overboard in a storm…. Um,, that would take some pretty convoluted circumstances there are safety protocols….. So. A US Navy Officer that suspects his Captain of treason in planning a mid storm rendezvous with a Russian sub only to get knocked overboard, retrieved by the Russians, realizes that they are aliens, and has to escape. Hmmm. Maybe I’ll go back to the mermaids…..
(yeah that was all stream of thought)
Ideas are easy. Sitting down for hours at a time and writing, writing when you have no fricking clue where the story is going, writing when you are certain the tory sucks, and writing when you get invited to go do something fun but you know your self imposed deadline is looming….. That takes being a writer.
Being a writer is also in the edit when it’s finished. And the second edit. And the rewrite when you realize that editing just isn’t getting it where you want it to go. Writing is in cutting out 8 thousand words and writing 12 thousand new words in an 80 thousand word manuscript only to have a beta reader not be able to spot the actual changes while telling you how much better it reads.
Writing is not school learned essay formulas, rewriting a story or movie with your own names and claiming originality, and writing is not simple declaring that you are a writer now because you used to write once.
Writers write, they don’t stop. A writer puts haiku to the grocery list, edits billboards without thinking, and plots out a movie based on the trailers and the first 10 minutes.
Artists art, doodle in the margins, paint in the dust on cars, and sculpts mashed potatoes into faces.
Musicians make music. Fingers drumming, whistling counter tempos, and strumming anything that will make a sound to try for a pleasant sound they can modify.
I played piano when I was young. I would never even consider announcing that I am a piano player again and start going to coffee shops expecting others to listen to me play. I don’t care how good I was. Then.
If I make writing look easy then I am showing years of practice, years of struggle, years of rewriting, and years of deleting.
And I still suck. I still miss the mood or the image I am trying to craft and have to fumble to force the end piece to communicate what I want.
If you want to be a writer, good for you, write. Just write. Finish the first piece no matter how bored you get with it, ignore the siren call of a new idea and finish it. Edit it. And ask someone to read it when you can’t edit any more. Then listen and rewrite and edit some more. And set deadlines. Force writing time. Set aside your art time, forget your music time, abandon your TV shows, and prioritize writing. If you want to be a writer that should be you defining trait. And in learning the craft it has to be your primary focus until it becomes a habit.
If you used to write and you want to reclaim that talent – write, don’t talk about past writing, don’t expect past writing habits or patterns to help you – in fact reject them ut right as having failed you once before. Take to writing with the understanding and certainty that you know less that a newcomer having written yourself out of writing once before.
And if the only reason you are thinking about writing is because you see others with books and you think “I can do that, it looks easy and fun, and I want to play with the cool kids,” take up the violin first. When you can play “The devil went down to Georgia” with feeling – then consider writing for fun.
Yeah, it’s like that.

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