One point made as the group discussed their efforts was that a beginning writer has a hard time accepting and dealing with the idea that he or she actually is a writer. Most professions require training and then a certificate, license, or diploma is granted. A writer or poet or play writer has to determine that he or she is actually, yes, a writer, poet, or playwright even though he or she may not be published.
When I talk with students who want to be writers, I tell them to practice saying aloud, “I am a writer”; “I am a poet” ; I am a playwright.” It shouldn’t be as hard as saying “I am a teacher, lawyer, homemaker, or merchant,” but it is. Imagine saying, “I am a minister” or “I am a plumber.” Such a declaration implies the person has a profession, a calling, gets paid for he does, and/or has some success. In the case of a writer, a writer works alone, isolated, writing, thinking, revising, polishing, and then submitting work. There are rejection letters, one after the other. Sometimes there is no response at all. Baker, the speaker at the Scribbler’s Pub, reminded the group she queried nearly one hundred agents and publishing companies regarding her play and only received three responses, and each response was a rejection. In spite of such a dismal situation, writers keep at it. People who think Grisham, Patterson, or Stephen King must remember that for each one, there are thousands who haven’t had one piece of work published.
I have been fortunate. I’ve had some success, but success isn’t a matter of money, certainly in my case. Writers do have, however, a need to be affirmed, and for that we do attempt to publish or see ourselves in print. Even so, writing is in the process more than the result. Most writers I know despise the process of marketing…which is difficult indeed but necessary. Most writers I know say they can spend hours and hours writing and re-writing their work. Whereas a painter uses oils and brushes, writers use words, and words have shadings and meanings. It becomes an artistic process. Marketing, however, is a business. It’s tough.
I believe some people are born with the need to express themselves through the written word. My Hungarian friend, Janos Shoemyen, now deceased, knew and used several languages. He told me English is the language best suited for the written word. English words have subtleties and shades of meanings, and it is a delight—and creative-- to select the very best word for some expression or emotion.
The problems most writers have, however, is to be succinct. Think bullets. Too much rambling, and the writer loses the reader. Short declarative sentences were Hemingway’s technique. It’s something journalists learn early on. State the facts. I tend to be wordy with my writing because my thoughts keep coming. Even though I’m a seasoned writer, I still have to cut, prune, revise, and cut words. Sometimes I have to throw away perfectly lovely sentences. Ouch.