Over the last several weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to talk to some newer writers about writing craft and the art of storytelling.
I am at the point now where people are coming to me to ask my input, and to think I might have something to offer. That’s one of the most fulfilling parts of having been doing this for awhile, I think, is being able to encourage someone else to keep at it.
Because let’s be honest, this is a hard job with very little reward for the number of hours you put into it.
I always tell my story, how I went from being a hobbyist to being serious about pursing writing.
It started with a rejection.
I wrote my novel, my mom bought me a copy of the Sally Stuart Christian Writer’s Market Guide, and I send out my story.
And I got form letter after form letter, rejection after rejection, all saying the same thing, “Thanks but no thanks,” with no explanation whatsoever. And I had NO IDEA WHY. Why wasn’t anyone interested? What was wrong with it?
Until finally, one kind-hearted agent informed me that while I had elements of good writing craft, other areas begged for fine-tuning.
My first thought was, “What in the world is writing craft?”
I look back now and I see so many newbie mistakes, so much that I did wrong, it was no wonder no one was interested. But, as they say, I didn’t know what I didn’t know.
That was the beginning of my journey. That was when I joined writers groups and found critique partners and got books on craft and started going to conferences.
Now, years and years later, I still haven’t “arrived” as a writer, by the standards that most people see as “success,” namely being published by a publisher, but I have learned a lot. I’m actually pretty good at this thing now. I know what I’m doing.
Enough to be able to help writers who are doing the things I was doing before I knew what I was doing.
I recently read the opening of a young woman’s manuscript, and the craft was almost non-existent. When I showed her some things on how to improve, she was, of course, really disheartened.
But then I got to be her cheerleader, her mentor for a little bit. I got to say, “I’ve been there. I know how frustrating it can be. It’s okay to cry, but then get back to it. You can do this.”
They say the best way to cement what you’ve learned is to teach it to someone else. Since I’ve been working for Splickety/Havok, my own writing has gotten so much tighter, and now I’m getting to do some more one-on-one and really share some of what I’ve learned with newer writers, much like my writing groups and critique partners have done for me.
I certainly don’t know it all yet, and I can always improve, and there are several measures of success I have yet to acquire, but I know some stuff. And I can share that stuff, and other people will get a little further in their journeys because of me.