Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Writing Laundry List

I post in two places … because yes I am insane. It is this same illness that compels me to be in the 3 book clubs, 2 dinner groups, attend 2 church services (although only one Sunday School Class) and otherwise over commit my time.

That’s a nice little piece of information about me, but really who cares? What I really want to talk about is the difference in the two audiences I'm writing for. They always say knowing your audience is key to a good presentation and reception.

I figured the audience would be the same. One is an online community designed up to facilitate interaction between individuals. The other is not so much a community but a vast ocean. It has no easily discernible structure. Only by “advertising” yourself do you get guests. All the work is incumbent upon yourself to generate the community – but still the purpose it to meet people and express yourself.

The audiences, they are NOT the same. On my blog, the “Pot Roast” story has generated 9 comments. The other online community, one comment. (By a dear friend who comments on everything, more about him in a moment.) However the online community my brief screed on “The cost of perfectionism” 13 comments. The other audience? NO comments. (although I did find a very, very kind compliment about it on someone else’s blog.)>

Which finally leads up to this reflection. I have a friend who is an author. We made a barter deal. I’d teach him how to cook, he teaches me how to be a better writer. Today, after my love letter to San Francisco, I received the following comment from him, Will you please explain to me again why you feel you need writing lessons? :)” I think he’s overly generous and doesn’t want to be put into the role of critic. I can understand. But, I think I have a lot of areas I could improve upon.

So here’s my writing laundry list:

  1. I feel like I start all of my sentences with “but”, “and then”, “although”, “anyway” , over and over again.I want to construct better sentences.
  2. I end some of my sentences with prepostions. I'm not so sure why that's wrong. Nor how to restructure them so they don't end like that.
  3. I am afraid I’m one of those writers that “tells” you, but doesn’t “show” you. Another more educated definition is I lack the “employment of metaphors” in my writing. My current favorite metaphor is this description, “leopard spots of rain”. What a great visual. I would have said, there were sporadic spots of rain, slowly covering up the dryness of the sidewalk. Yes, it’s descriptive, but doesn’t the other reach out and grab you?
  4. I know how to report. But how do you invent? I can invent stories about myself, but a fictional person?! How? I barely know why "I" act and react the way I do, how can I possibly construct ONE other human, much less a whole community?
  5. “The Story Arc” … okay, I don’t even know what a story arc is, but I suspect it has a beginning, middle and end. I can do that – it’s just that I seem to add so much in between. *sigh*
  6. Which brings us to brevity. (see I did it, once) (ooooh, now I just ruined it) (My mother would tell you it’s because I “must have the last word”) (I think she’s wrong.)
  7. I think I loose my way between my idea and my story. Sometimes I don’t even think the story I tell relates to my title. (Which is more obvious when I’m assigned a topic, as opposed to rambling on what ever it is I was to pontificate on.)
  8. I think small; one incident. Not many years worth of narrative.

Perhaps I'll become more accomplished in the next 12 days.


peter said...

I definitely don't think you need writing lessons! :)

It's always good to strive for improvement, but don't get too tangled in your technique - that's what mired me in two years of being afraid to record my own songs!

Blogging is such a different animal from other forms of authorship. If you just focus on developing a distinct and consistent voice much of the technique will follow (and the parts that don't will be part of what makes you distinct).

Woodstock said...

I am after many many years of short stories, screenplays, and unpublished but completed novels just starting to consider myself "a writer." Why...because I write. Not because someone pays me to do it or because I get invited on Oprah to talk about my book or my house.

All the things you describe, and what Peter said are true: they are technique, things you can work on. For me the key is whether you can touch the creative impulse, and you have demonstrated that ability ably. And the more you write, the more the "in between"s will come.

Mit_Moi said...

Peter & Woodstock,

Thanks for the reality check. You are both correct. I consider myself a chef, because I work hard at my craft, even though I don't cook for a living. The same should hold true for this hobby, huh? I am a WRITER, because I enjoy writing - and do a good job of it. Thanks for reminding me that it doesn't take $$ to validate skill and ability.


lee715 said...

So far your stories have kept me rivited. the rest is creative writing 101.
To me your story is what is most important. they make me smile.
Thank you for sharing.