Semi-Deep Thoughts: On Writing
In becoming a writer
I gave myself permission to imagine and dream, to open myself up to (allegedly)
strange and unusual thoughts. This could be an alarmingly easy task (compared
to turning off the censor in my head). I’d consider the thoughts, finding that
some ideas should be immediately suppressed, or stomped upon and killed, while
others should be utilized, and could take off like wildfire. The trick was to
know the difference. This process took intuition, practice, and feedback. I
tried to keep plenty of these around.
If as a writer I was feeling restless or stuck, I tried multiple projects to
realize what genuinely engaged me. One practical philosophy was to let the
words age. I’d put them aside for a while on a hard drive or in a desk drawer.
I'd later come back to the words. Yes, they were still there! Were they a
desirable, respectable, well-organized group of words, or did they suck? The
aging process could reveal such.
Not a few writers benefited from internet exposure, as did I. Message boards,
web sites, and writers groups proved a training ground of sorts. Positive
feedback and rejection were a comment, or an email, away. When the words moved
through my brain and fingertips, I’d often experience the Compulsive Need to
Post. I’d take a deep breath and count to one hundred. Were these words ready
to be shared with the world? Sure, the Instapost felt good at the moment, but
later one might feel differently. Considering there was no 'Take It All Back
Now' clickable icon, what was done might linger (or might be TOSed).
The words, sentences, paragraphs, and chapters were now posted online. What
kind of response was I getting, if any, and how did I feel about that? In the
case of no response, I tried to not take it personally. In the case of mockery
and harassment, ditto. I’d found my voice. Some wanted me to lose it.
If in the internet glut, one’s writing could be seemingly ignored, lost, buried
in unimaginably vast cyberspace, similar to outer space, where no one can hear
you scream. I also wondered if people could relate to the work, or not. Did the
tone or subject matter of the work possibly make some people uncomfortable?
Well, of course.
The responses to my online writing were coming in. I was getting a buzz and
making new acquaintances. I came to dread the Post Posting Blues, when the
enthusiastic responses would stop. The truth is that the positive feedback
can’t last forever. Writers must keep working. I realized that in the end,
writing should be its own reward.
Having written primarily humor and essay, I subsequently joined a well-known
writers' group which penned erotica. I began to write stories that I might not
have earlier imagined (though was not interested in being, or becoming, genre-bound).
Independent publishers and anthology projects seemed to be thriving – and
could provide quality venues for struggling writers. It could be motivational
for writers to have such a potential anthology framework for their work.
It was said that erotic literature was on an upswing. We sometimes seem to
forget that Eros was excised from many classic works. So-called erotica had
become somewhat déclassé: people tend to disregard the fact that writers might
write well - or badly - in any genre.
I’d decided to submit more work to print publishers, so that my words might
exist in a so-called real book that existed on a real shelf. How to break
through into that magical circle of published authors? I agonized. I didn’t
know how. At least, do the work and submit it. Repeat, repeat . . .
I researched the writing markets, not a difficult task in an age of
informational overload. I tried to keep my original voice and inspiration and
forget about set-in-stone genres. I went for joy and originality, and writing
about what I knew and loved. My first print publication was a road story
inspired by Callie Khouri’s Thelma and Louise. I love film. Good energy went
into the piece. I was pleased that my editors happened to be film lovers.
It is believed that to be published in our vast, glutted market of diverse
writers, a writer should likely possess a few of the following qualities:
excellence, originality, unique perspective and a common touch. Don't forget
luck. A little luck is sometimes the best plan.
Over time authors seemed to consciously and unconsciously teach me, filtering
into my soul as if by osmosis. Things went click in my head. I had flashes of
intuition that I, too, could be a writer - and flashes of extuition:
"Silly! You could never do that!" said my internal dream stomper.
It would be a while before I gave myself permission to assertively express
myself on the page. The upside is that I happened to gain life experience
before naively wandering into the fray and struggling into print. I'm glad that
I waited. I think.