Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Tipsy Tuesday

It seems that just about everyone wants to write a novel. However, few people will ever begin and even fewer will actually finish a manuscript. Doing that is quite an accomplishment, and it sets you apart from the dreamers who would love to see their names on the covers of books but never will because they're not willing to work for it.

There's nothing wrong with dreaming. Dreams keep you young. I've always wanted to oil paint, but aside from a brief dabble at it when I was a teen, I haven't picked up a brush, bought paints and canvas, and set brush to canvas since. I've never taken a class to learn anything about working with oil paints. (Though I did watch a lot of episodes of Bob Ross's program.) That said, do you think I'm serious about learning to paint? Nope. I must not be, or I'd be doing it. It's just an idle thing I don't give a lot of thought to. It's not my heart's desire.

A painter is someone who paints, never mind how talented or skilled she is. An actor acts. A singer sings. Same with writing. So here's a question for you: Do you merely dream of becoming a writer, or are you a writer?

Honestly, I don't believe talent has a whole lot to do with getting published. (Though I do believe you have to have a measure of it in order to get published. You can be the most technically correct writer out there, but if you can't tell a story, no one's going to want to read what you write.) So if your sister or your spouse/significant other or your high school English teacher has praised your talent, that's just not enough. Writing is a craft that must be learned, and that requires practice. If I went out and bought paints, brushes and canvas and started painting tomorrow, I wouldn't expect my first effort (or even my tenth or fiftieth) to land me an expo. I would expect to put in at the very least a few years of work and study before I turned out a product worthy of someone's hard earned money. No matter how much I might love painting. And I might never be a Monet, but with ambition and plenty of practice, I could learn to paint competently. Or play a musical instrument. Same deal.

If writing is your dream, then write. And if your heart's desire is to be published, don't wait for success to fall into your lap. Go after it. Learn from your mistakes and keep pursuing your dream!

(Note: If you've read my blog for any length of time you'll know I'm not a big proponent of self-publishing, and I do my best to steer people away from vanity publishers. Don't use either as a shortcut to getting your name on a book. Write, write, write, and read, read, read. You have to be familiar with the genre you want to write in order to write it.)


Colleen Love said...

Wasn't it Stephen King that said 2% talent, 98% persistance?? :) I have to agree all the way around. Ah the joys of subjecting one's self to the publishing industry. *sigh* I love it. lol

Sherrill Quinn said...

Colleen, it may have been King who said that. Whoever it was, I agree.