Friday, January 20, 2017

I Write part 1

I was thinking of numbering this blog 42 or something in the hopes of fooling the reader into thinking I've cranked out a copious amount of words but for some technical reason the prior 41 blogs have disappeared into the Internet abyss. It reminds me of a senior prank I heard about where the students of a high school bought 3 pigs, numbered them 1, 2, and 4, then released those poor swines into the halls. The administration spent the entire day looking for piglet number 3. Genius.

Anyway, I want this blog to be about my process and what I've learned along the way. I don't pretend to be anything other than another person who feels compelled to tell a story on paper. I'm not published (actually, Textbroker paid me for a little paragraph about life insurance, so technically I am a professional writer) so this isn't a success story...yet.

I've been writing creatively since I was 18 years old, that's 30 years now. My early attempts at poetry and storytelling were less than engaging and I believe that's because I wasn't a big reader at the time. But eventually I became a voracious bookworm, tearing through the classics like The Three Musketeers, On the Road, Great Expectations, One Hundred Years of Solitude, and many others. I read John Irving's entire library and dove into Milan Kundera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Phillip Roth, Graham Greene, Ken Follett, JD Salinger, Ernest Hemingway, Stephen King, Tom Clancy, Douglas Copeland, Michael Crichton, and Thomas Hardy, wishing to swim with these literary giants.

I switched majors in college from Architecture (I wasn't doing so hot in my construction classes, so you should be thankful you don't live or work in a building I designed, which, because of the math involved, might be crumbling down around you) to English Literature. My love of reading propelled me to a degree I am very proud of holding. It's pretty much worthless in the job market, unless you want to teach or go to graduate school (I had zero inclination to do either), and I managed to find work as a manager while writing early in the morning or late at night. I took writing classes, read how-to books from the Writer's Digest canon, subscribed to Writer's Digest magazine all in hopes of becoming the next Jay McInerney or Bret Easton Ellis. (sigh) Rejection letter after rejection letter followed for my short stories and poetry, and deservedly so. They were bad. But here's the thing: the more you write (and rewrite and rewrite and rewrite) and the more you read, the better you get. My craft has gotten better, I've found my voice, and that's a profound feeling of accomplishment.

In the 1990's I had an idea that I knew would be a blockbuster of a movie and I set out to teach myself how to write screenplays, something I really enjoyed doing (the learning of and the writing of). I ended up finishing two horrible, excruciating, unproducible films that will never be developed onto celluloid (they weren't that bad). That's okay because I absorbed so much from the process and I developed useful writing habits while working and raising a family. Set a time everyday to write, whether it's in the morning or evening (I preferred morning) and stick to it. Make it a habit. And write. Put something down on paper, good or bad.

Part two of "I Write" will soon follow.

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