Friday, October 10, 2008

If it doesn't speak to me, let it be

Robert, don't quit the forums (fori? forae?) and certainly don't let anything I've said, or Kevin for that matter, be a big deal to you. Our writerly egos and fears are involved, and therefore, we've got to say to ourselves "If it doesn't speak to me, let it be."

Writing about individual process always stirs people up. And makes for a lively discussion which is always to the good. The process is something we all want to understand. We strive to learn tricks, pray for shortcuts, hope and wish Jessica Lange or Andre Ethier will show up and be our muse. Anything that might our task easier. At least I do.

When something worksand someone else shares his secrets, we often want to put our hands over our ears and sing "la-la-la-la!" We don't want to know that what's working for us isn't right.

The irony is that it's all right. There is NO WRONG WAY, no wrong philosophy.

We choose our direction at each sign post and hope that it's going to lead us where we want to go. Sometimes something learned works forever. Sometimes we hit a deep box canyon with no path to the top. Yet it's hard to turn around and retrace our steps.

If one writer cares about other writers, and about the art and craft of writing, she sharea the reasons for her chosen path. Why?

If I've figured out something that works, just a tiny part of the process of writing (I don't pretend to more because I don't know a millionth of what there is to learn and know), I don't want someone I know to struggle to find that same answer if I can give her some information, a hint, a trick, a 3 minute muse.

I've been writing a long time, and only now am able to write 1000 words that someone just might say they enjoyed. Maybe I should've given up. Maybe I wasn't always listening. But I didn't quit because whenever I got really stuck, the universe dropped a book in my lap (Jerry Cleaver, Natalie Goldberg, Stephen King), delivered a Writers Digest, alerted me to a workshop, or blessed me with an astute and honest reader.

So now I'm always listening, but I'm also filtering. Using what I tantalizes me and/or what I can believe in, and ignoring the rest.


Robert said...

Thanks for that, Gay. And actually, my response was more directed at Kevin -- he felt slighted that I didn't respond to him, and I just wanted to let him know it was nothing personal.

And the comment about the forums, it just sometimes it seems people can get a bit touchy and read into things when there really isn't anything there (and not just the EDF forums, either), so most times it feels best to be an observer than one who interacts.

I have no regrets about my posts -- either people will use it for what it is or they won't (fact is, while I like the D'Ambrosio quote, I don't completely agree with everything he says).

Anyway, I just didn't want it to seem like I was purposely ignoring Kevin.

Thanks again.

Sarah Hilary said...

Another great post, Gay. I think the bitter reality (but it's also a blessing) of being a writer is that ultimately it's a solitary process. You just need you, and a pen and paper. That's it. I think also that encouragement and constructive criticism and all the rest can be good for any writer, particularly when he/she is starting out, but it's also a gift to be given space by your peers - license to learn for yourself without too many rules being laid down. That's what I like about your approach - you give that space. That's probably the best gift any writer can get.

Gay Degani said...

Thanks both of you. Both great comments. This is the kind of discussion about writing I love...and for me these discussions are so rare. Please lets keep talking, encouraging, laughing, and yes, even arguing.