A-Z Blogging for April
by Jeff Salter
Well, actually, W is for Writing … and for Writers.
Writers are a strange breed, aren’t we? Whether we produce non-fiction, articles, essays, short stories, poetry, children’s stories, YA, or adult fiction. Whether that adult fiction is novella or opus, whether it’s ‘literary’ or lame, comedy or tragedy, regardless of the genre … or the hybrid genre — we pour into it our blood, sweat, tears, and toil. Some even say we pour our souls into it, but it may the other way around: it may be that writing actually fills our souls (rather than empties them).
I don’t know … I’m no philosopher. But I believe that writers write because we have to. We’re wired to write. I’ve known some people who say they just “decided” – one day, at some point in their adult lives – that they were “going to write”. But I want to believe that more people are like me — having had the genuine conviction since about junior high school that writing would have to be a major part of my life.
Now, I’ll warrant that many of us don’t ever have the luxury to write “full-time” (which is a misnomer I’ll address at some other point) … because most of us have adult responsibilities, whether in the workplace or at home (or both). Quite sincerely, my hat is off to the many authors I know who balance being wives, mothers, workers, homemakers … plus remain involved in their communities and places of worship. How on earth they find time to write is totally beyond me. But many do … and many do so with little or no support from family or friends.
But lest we take ourselves too seriously, have a look at this clip of the famous author Kurt Vonnegut, as he draws the ‘shape’ of three archetypal story plots. [Sorry for the quality, but it was the same in every source I checked.]
I’m very glad to see Vonnegut approach this with humor. Some writers takes themselves too seriously; some like to mimic the tragic anguish of famous writers they’ve seen depicted on screen on in literature. Heck, some writers even mimic the writing of other authors!
I say we should enjoy what we do. No, I don’t mean that we’re giddy all the time. But I believe if we’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing, we should feel some deep-down ‘rightness’ about it. My wife came across this anonymous quote on a bag of produce … and she stuck it to the dash board of my truck: “The happiest people are those who discover that what they should be doing and what they are doing … are the same thing.” It took me over 57 years to reach that point.
We aren’t all going to have the success of John Grisham or Janet Evanovich. But we are going to produce the best dadgum piece of writing we can manage. And we’ll love it … and nurture it … and groom it … and finally send it out into the brutal world. Then wait patiently – for months, or even years – for the call … that it’s finally found a new home.
Ah, yes … “the call”.
Have you experienced “the call” yet?
What do you think of Vonnegut’s three plots? What other plots did he neglect to mention?