Wednesday Morning Ramblings

Here are some thoughts on writing fiction.  These aren’t directed at any individual; they’re just my personal musings about the craft and profession.

First, I believe good writing is a craft that must be learned and cultivated over a lifetime.  Sure, there are distinctive personality traits that draw a person to the profession, but more important is the time and energy that person puts into honing their voice, playing with syntax, polishing dialogue, developing descriptions, bringing characters to life, and building tension.  These are the framework of a good story, and without them, a writer is much like a carpenter who can’t hammer straight or read a tape measure.

Also, there seem to be two major categories of writers: the artist and the mercenary.  I don’t mean the latter as a pejorative, simply an observation of fact.  Last weekend, I heard from several of my peers that they write whatever sells.  Please, don’t misunderstand.  I’m all for making money and don’t begrudge them pursuing it, but as an artist, I’m more interested in developing the story that’s authentic to me.  If the money never follows, so be it.  I write because I have to, not because of the potential for making money, and since I have to write, I choose to create what matters to me, not what happens to be hot at the moment.  If the day arrives when I write about sparkly, wimpy vampires other than as a satire, that’s the day I’ve crossed over from artist to mercenary.  Of course, by that point, the new hot thing will be transgender zombies with a penchant for needlepoint, or something equally absurd.

Finally for this entry, I think the artistic writer needs to be subversive to a degree.  The current trend in society is a degradation of manners, etiquette, and general decency.  As an artist, I reject that trend, and my act of subversion is to carry myself as a professional, treating others with respect and dignity, unless they happen to piss me off.  Then, it’s both barrels.  But in general, I make a conscious decision to be polite and not give in to the decline of civilized behavior.  I refuse to play the “I’m cool” game that pervades the music industry and Hollywood because that’s not my nature and not my character.  I also refuse to follow the crowd.  I’m an independent, free-thinking person who conducts himself, most of the time, as respectful and courteous, and I tip my hat to my fellow writers, both mercenary and artist, who do likewise.

Those are my thoughts for now.  I hope to write more about the craft of writing soon.

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2 thoughts on “Wednesday Morning Ramblings”

  1. I appreciate your take on this particular issue, just because something makes money does not make it artistic or even well done. Remember that fellow Oprah raved about and then found out that he lied? That was non-fiction, but a lie is a lie, fiction or non. To me, writing for gain and not for the sake of the art is akin to lying. Maybe I am being a bit hyper-sensitive. Who knows? I am a proud, hack writer of disjointed satire, straight up fiction takes talent that I am clever enough to know that I do not possess.

    I applaud your taking of the artistic higher ground.

  2. Alex,

    I love it when you put your eye to a subject and dissect it. You do that unfailingly well. “The artist and the mercenary”, case in point. I agree with you wholeheartedly. Interestingly enough, I have had this internal discourse with myself for quite awhile when trying to decide if I should first work on a novel about something I love and feel passionately about or if I should try and hone in a trendy subject in order to cement my success. Hopefully, that doesn’t sound as calculating as I think it does lol. I meant it to be logical but in any case am happy that I came down on the side of the artist.

    My hat is tipped!

    L.

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