I was recently reading On Writing by Stephen King. It’s one of those books you dip in and out of and even re-read. While I love his candid style, it is something else within this book that I want to reflect on.
The importance of nurturing young minds
I have always been a reader; my earliest memories are of sitting with my head buried in a book. People would buy me books, my mum in particular bought me a huge number as gifts. I would read my favorites over and over again. I was never much of a writer when young though, and it wasn’t until I left university that I started to dabble in writing myself.
Whenever we come to the writing life, whether as a child, a young adult, or an older adult, we come to it with a measure of vulnerability.
“She (his mother) said it was good enough to be in a book. Nothing anyone has said to me since has made me feel any happier.”
~Stephen King, On Writing.
We all need someone to believe in us.
One someone is usually enough.
Someone whose opinion holds weight, whose opinion matters.
That doesn’t mean feedback should be sugar coated. It must be genuine, and better if it comes from someone who is circumspect with their praise. Most people, young or old, have an inbuilt detector for the disingenuous. False praise will fall flat, but the praise we have worked for will lift us up to a special place.
It’s also about timing. We are all vulnerable at times in our life, and that maybe when we are young like Stephen was when his mother read his first story, and it might equally be when we are older.
So, I am going to amend my above quote and say that there is an importance to nurturing all minds.
All writers are equal and different
I realize everyone is different, and that some writers might need greater nurturing than others. Some might even be comfortable with their own magnificence and need very little nurturing at all.
I think most writers are imperfect perfectionists who are never really satisfied with what they produce and are always seeking to do better.
And I think all writers need someone to believe in them. I know if someone offered me an option to have a hundred dollars or a hundred reviews from people who enjoyed my work, I would pick the reviews every time.
It doesn’t matter how many books you have written or how successful you are as a writer. Success is subjective, after all. But I love that Stephen Kings greatest source of writerly pride was getting a quarter for his first book from his mother.
Every writer loves to write, but with the best intentions, ‘stuff’ can get in our way.
Here are the six writing blocker personality types. Which is your favorite?
You have an ‘amazing’ story idea, but you become distracted with how ‘amazing’ your life will be once you are a famous writer…
You have motivation, you have ideas…but ‘real’ people and ‘real’ life is demanding all your time!
You have ideas, but the ideas are so much fun…and you just want to think about them.
You want to write, you really do, but there are too many distractions in your life.
Or a snack!
Or a snooze!
The blank page
You’ve got nothing <sigh>. Absolutely nothing.
The cat wrangler!
The writing planets are aligned…unfortunately, there is something furry lying all over your keyboard.
I’ve not been well for a few months now with a cold and then a cough that just won’t go away. But this is my last week of work and then I am taking a three week holiday. Really looking forward to a nice relaxing break….Okay, and maybe just a smidgen of fun 😉
Back to the blog…
So, I’m well and truly fed up of the sick club and can’t wait to get back to blogging. I have some fun blog posts queued up and will get cracking on them while I am on holiday! So pull up your chair and get the popcorn out!
I’ll be in Brisbane for Christmas and New year, and I will also drop a couple of posts of our travels while there. It’s been over five years since my last visit and I expect it will have changed a fair bit. It’s a long flight from Perth, too, so any scifi or fantasy reading recommendations would be appreciated!
When I wasn’t feeling sorry for myself I was busy writing my new book series. I’m into editing now and happy with the way the book turned out. I usually aim for 100-110k and then cut about 10-20%. This time I didn’t quite make 90k in the draft and it’s tracking at around 80k after the first editing cull. I normally struggle to keep the word count down so this is a new experience for me! I’m comfortable with the storyline and will see how it feels as I read. Sometimes gaps become obvious later, but I would rather it was a good 80k than try and pad it out!
Book 2 for the Divided World Series should be coming out in print soon. And Book 3 just needs a final read, so lots coming in the new year!
Let’s get creative…
I’ve had a lot of fun writing the new book. It was nice to get back into the creative side of writing after so long editing and tweaking the last series. But now the draft is done, I do enjoy the editing 🙂
Happy reading and writing! 🙂
I thought I would take a little time out from my WIP to talk about writers, and more specifically their evil nature.
Now, I realise that being a writer doesn’t make you any more disposed toward a life of crime, or even being unkind because it certainly doesn’t. Although please never check a writer’s search history because you will soon be convinced we are plotting an assassination attempt and looking for ways to hide the body!
What I am talking about is conflict…because every good book needs conflict…and the only way to think up conflict is…you guessed it…to think a little evil.
Right in the very earliest stages of your novel’s development, when it is no more than a twinkling in the dark pit of your mind…there is conflict bubbling up to the surface.
Without conflict or challenge there is only a…millpond.
I’m going to let you in on a secret…nobody wants to read about a millpond because it’s BORING!
What we need is stormy seas and howling winds, and a few pure evil key plot points to screw our character’s lives up!
So, you kick off your story and you feel you have a goodly smattering of conflict going on when. …WHAM! It just pops in there, another totally evil thing you could do to your characters that will stir things up even more!
You rub your hands together in glee and immediately get down to the nefarious deed.
Barely have your characters got over that little challenge when…BAM! Oh yes, you guessed it, another nasty plot point has hatched in your very evil mind.
Are writers quintessentially evil? Do we take to writing as a way of nurturing evil thoughts that are already there? Or do we develop and hone our evil plot point radar as we write and write some more?
I guess we may never know, but one fact is very well established, a little evil thinking will go a long way to help your writing!
I am going to confess something…I love reading as much as I love writing…and I love writing an awful lot.
So I thought I would share some excellent reasons / excuses to read a little more.
It makes us better writers.
When we read we consciously and subconsciously pick up all kinds of amazing tips whether it is impactful word placement, a descriptive style, or story flow, reading a good book will help it all.
Expands our vocabulary and intelligence.
When we read we expose ourselves to new words, new ideas, and new perspectives. Every time we read a book we have an opportunity to learn.
It fires up our imagination.
When we read we meet new characters and travel to amazing places that can fire up our imagination.
It reduces stress.
Reading is known as a flow activity. This means that when we read we let our worldly troubles go and submerge ourselves in another world. Time passes swiftly…it’s a great way to make things like a boring daily commute bearable.
It makes us happy.
I think this goes without saying, but if you have a book with you adventure is only a few pages away.
There is no better curse than to be a writer.
Why constrain yourself to one world and one life, when you can build thousands for yourself?
With imagination you can climb impossible mountains, fly dragons, and win wars.
You can die, and be reborn.
You can solve great mysteries, or create them.
Make people, and then make them hate one another or fall in love.
Send them out on perilous quests that they might, at your whim, win or lose.
You can go with them, or decide to watch them from afar.
Yes, there really is no better curse than to be a writer.
Every writer has a cupboard or computer full of unfinished drafts.
But what if something were to suddenly happen to us and those embarrassing or poorly thought out scribbles were let out into the world?
I’m not a famous writer, so I don’t need to worry just yet about my estate getting into a wrangling about selling on my work, nor with publishers creating thousands of knock off novels based around the characters I created, but for some writers this is the case.
For all of us, our drafts are precious potentials, but just that and nothing more. I expect we can all compare our draft to our finished work and see the vast gulf between those early scratchings and the polished product at the end.
Even finished drafts can been difficult to let out into the world where we prefer our trusted few to read them with an expectation that they are still rough work.
A part of me is horrified that Terry Pratchett chose to crush his unfinished work, and another part applauds him.
Worth a read if you haven’t seen it already No wonder Terry Pratchett wanted to avoid the Stieg Larsson treatment (Link)