Monday, October 8, 2012

Writing is easy. All you have to do is write.

Last week during a tutoring session, I was helping a student with an argumentative essay about how writing is similar to the thematic elements in Stephen King’s short story, “Survivor Type.” While we were talking about the craft and what it means to be a writer, I revisited a lot of material and advice that I got from King’s novel, On Writing, and then reflected on how my lifestyle has changed since starting the Writing Popular Fiction program at Seton Hill. 

Needless to say, I’ve done a 180.

Graduate school kicks my ass every day. I feel guilty when I sleep because I feel like I should be writing, and when I dream, it’s normally about Hell so I don’t have pleasant dreams. I write about 4-5 hours a day, normally a combination of time spent between poetry and my novel, and I have a serious coffee addiction. I carry around a notebook with me in case something brilliant pops into my head when I’m not at my desk, and that same head is usually crammed in a book studying fiction and the various genres I want to write in. Hell, I even read when I’m on the treadmill now. And if I’m running fast, I have the Audible app playing on my iPhone.   

So what does that say about me (other than I’m certifiably insane)?

It says that I’m a writer…and I’m serious about writing.

Writing isn’t easy, and I don’t appreciate it when people make the assumption that it is. It’s offensive to the craft and to all of the people that spend hours slaving away at their art. If you’re not 100% committed to turning your life over for the sake of a story, then newsflash! You’re not a writer. Writing isn’t something you can do half-assed (unless you count Twilight). There’s no such thing as coming to a blank page lightly. In reference to the blank page, King writes:

I’m not asking you to come reverently or unquestioningly; I’m not asking you to be politically correct or cast aside your sense of humor (please God you have one). This isn’t  a popularity contest, it’s not the moral Olympics, and it’s not church.  But it’s writing, damn it, not washing the car or putting on eyeliner. If you can take it seriously, we can do business. If you can’t or won’t, it’s time for you to close the book and doing something else. Wash the car, maybe. (107)

If that passage makes you think twice about picking up a pencil, then writing isn’t for you. I’ve wanted to write since I’ve been eight years old, and not just because I was bored and felt like it would be something to pass the time. I love language, and a good story, whether it’s romance, horror, or science fiction, can and will make me cry if it’s done well and I fall in love with the characters. That’s how I knew writing was for me. I wanted to emulate that feeling. I wanted to make people scream, cry, fall in love, and escape. I wanted to create, and I wanted to do it every day.

Hence the purpose of this blog entry.

If you don’t want to think twice about whether the person getting stabbed in the chest in a particular story is you, then here are some things that you should NEVER say to a writer. 

1. I have some extra time on my hands. I think I’ll write a book.
(Oh please do! I hear it’s really easy and takes no time or previous thought at all!)

2. When are you going to get a real job?
(You’re right. I’ve spent 6.5 years in school to do absolutely nothing with my degree.)

3. Are you still writing those silly poems?
(Are you still dating that douchebag?)

4. I have a story idea for you.
(Do tell, because it’s not as if I have any ideas that are worthy of writing down.)

5. Make me a character in your book.
(Make me a sandwich? What? That came off as offensive?)

Okay, so I’m making fun of a serious situation. But really, people. Don’t make light of the craft, and you’ll never have to worry if the brunette running from the axe-wielding maniac is you.  Which let's be honest, it probably is.

Stay Scared,
Stephanie M. Wytovich
King, Stephen. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. New York: Scribner, 2000. Print.

1 comment:

  1. I love your list! I hear many of those lines/questions quite often. They really are irritating and inconsiderate.
    The other ones I get a lot when people ask me what I do or what I'm writing are:

    "What if you did ________ instead."
    "You should have one of your characters ______."
    "Why would you write about things that aren't real?"
    "Do you want to look at my book?"
    "Oh, well, Fantasy/Sci-Fi/YA/Horror/Romance isn't real writing. You should do something literary, like The Help."
    "I'd never read that; I only read ________."
    "I'm a writer too. I've been working on a novel for ten years now. I have 3 pages/chapters.
    "How many of your character's are you?"
    "When that doesn't work out, what are you going to do?"
    "That's a nice dream."

    Sometimes I think people like to be cruel.