Friday, January 4, 2013

You Know You're a Writer When...

I just published Let Them Come, so I’m feeling like a bit of self-indulgent, writerly-like ranting. So I’m going to mention a few of the things in my own life that I feel designate me as a writer under the title of “You Know You’re a Writer When…”

#1 Everything People Say Remind You of Something in Your Novel

This happens to me way too often. It can happen with any subject whatsoever. If someone happens to mention something they like or dislike it will remind me of a particular character that liked or disliked the same thing, and then I will have to mention how Character A liked such and such because of such and such feelings.

There are also the times when I’ll be having a philosophical discussion with a friend and she will mention one thing that just happens to be a theme in one of my novels. The next thing I know I’ve gone off on a five minute rant about how the angst of one character plays against the constraints of society to bring out the recognition of the one issue my friend just mentioned in passing.

The absolute worst situation is probably when I’m sitting down and the person I’m talking with is trying to get some input on the project he/she is currently working on, and then every time he/she mentions an obstacle he/she is facing in the writing I go off on how I also faced that issue in Novel B. And the next thing I know I’ve delineated the entire plot of my novel without giving any help whatsoever. This is a particular mistake I try my hardest not to make. It is good to hear examples from other people as to how they overcame one problem or another, but it’s not necessary to hear the complete plot of their stories interwoven with the advice.

#2 Free-Time is Work-Time

For some reason all of my fellow college students reach the break-period and don’t want to have anything to do with the scholarly. They don’t want to have to read classic literature, do research, or (most dreadful of all) write a single word if they can find anyway to avoid it. In contrast I look forward to breaks for those exact same reasons. As a writer I use my break time to read pieces of great literature in order to try and glean some help in honing my craft, I do research for my latest project, and I write like there’s no tomorrow.

The particular genre of my writing doesn’t particularly matter. Perhaps it is a few scenes in a novel, or some short stories/flash fiction, then there are the blog posts, and occasionally I am even taken by a whim to write an essay (philosophical or literary criticism).

The more… impressive? Perhaps I’ll say ludicrous, thing is that this obsession with what some might deem as “work” does not just apply to free-time found during the breaks. If I find a free time at any moment—even if it’s while I’m going to school full-time, working part-time, and weeping in between times—I will sit down and snag a few minutes to indulge in one of these pursuits, and quite often my first choice is writing.

#3 The Completion of a Project is Holiday Worthy

Ever finish that one big project you have spent countless hours on and then have leaned back in your chair beaming at it while wondering why the whole world isn’t lit up with fireworks and blasting epic music? I know I have. I’ll even get up and jump up and down or run around my house and wonder why everyone is looking at me like I’m crazy.

The average person, or I suppose “non-writer” might be more appropriate (some of those average people might take offense to being referred to as average), doesn’t understand that a writer’s life is built upon crossing the next finish line. The completion of a flash-fiction deserves uninterrupted nap time. A short story deserves the reward of getting taken out for lunch. And then there is the novel, the king of kings! This project has to be separated into even smaller finish lines. The completion of the first draft means drinks, going out for dinner, and a day for recuperation. Then there is the completion of the read through… after that you need a nap. Finally the final draft rolls around and there should be ninjas bowing down at your feet, a feast spread out in front of you, and a band playing as you walk down the street. Unfortunately the ninjas, chefs, and band members never seem to get the memo. (If anyone ever has managed to get any of these people to recognize the occasion, please share)

But at the end of the day, and at the end of the project, none of the show of it all really matters. You’ve completed your writing project, and as a writer that means that anything is possible.

Thank you for humoring me with that bit of self-indulgence, now I would like to take a moment to clarify why I’ve titled my blog “A Nincompoop.” Just so that I don’t leave anyone feeling too confused.

Anton Chekhov is one of my favorite writers: his short stories and plays are to die for! One of the short stories he wrote ( or rather more of a flash-fiction) was entitled… you guessed it! “A Nincompoop” Now this story is about a governess who is cheated by her boss for her pay because she is unwilling to stand up for herself. As a writer I feel that often times I undervalue myself and my work and don’t stand up for it the way I should. I also think that writing is a learning process that is always continuous, and if you are doing it right and learning all the time you will often have those moments where you read something you wrote and think, “My goodness! I am such a Nincompoop!”

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