Friday, March 23, 2012

The Greatest Writing Book - EVER!

I am frequently asked about books on the craft of writing. "Is there," they say, "a book that will take me through all the steps necessary to turn me into a successful writer, one that will speak to the voice, the grammar mistakes, the sense of rhythm, of plotting, and of word choice?"

Over the years I have read a great deal of books on writing, on plotting, of which I am abysmally poor, and of character development. I've read books by people I admire such as Kress, Wilhelm and Bova.  I've been continually inspired by Tobias. While these have been somewhat useful and informative they were still not the book I needed.  I've searched the shelves of bookstores and read reviews to find that one perfect book that will unlock the mysteries of how to spin gold from the dross of my limited creativity. I have read good books and bad, long ones and short, and those whose pretentiousness exceeded the bounds of good taste. None, it seemed, filled the void within me as I struggled mightily to craft something readable and, if I was extremely lucky, saleable.

So what would you say if I told you that there was such a book?  What would you say if I revealed where you might find it, peruse and use it to develop that wonderful inner voice that would vault you over the difficult and apparently insurmountable barriers so many beginning writers face?  Such a book does exist and is probably available within my arm's reach.

It is the book I am writing.

This is not a joke. The truth of the matter is that only by writing am I learning the craft necessary to improve. Word by word, sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph, and page after page I see all of my faults and am able to correct them and then do so again and again until I have it right.  Only by editing a line until it glows with a wondrous inner luster have I begun to understand the meaning of nuance, of direction, and of description. There have been (and will be) failures.  Too often I will have to trash months of work as not worthy and with each deletion I feel that I  have moved a micro step closer to what I wish to become.
Has there been rejection?  Hell yes! And in great profusion: an avalanche of words that scream I am not worthy.  However, buried in those words, among the hurtful boulders of editorial distain, I learn what I;ve done wrong, where were my missteps, and how to craft something better. Time and again I beat my head against the wall until finally I feel that I have created something to be proud of.

The bitter truth is that writing well requires endless hours of effort with little reward. There is nothing someone else has written that will tell me how to become a writer.The only book that will teach me how to write better is the one I am writing.  

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