Thursday, June 08, 2006

When is your own writing good?

Our admiration of fine writing will always be in proportion to its real difficulty and its apparent ease.
- Charles Caleb Colton, author and clergyman (1780-1832)

They make it look so easy, don't they? Whether the experts be craftsmen, athletes or writers, the best make it look easy.

However, unlike the other endeavours, writing seems relatively easy to those who try it out for the first time. People who have something to say are often able to string out their sentences and commit it to a file in short order.

Some, especially those with limited writing experience, think of what they have written as their babies. They don't want to change anything. "It's perfect! My little darling is perfect!"

Then they submit to editors, only to learn that they are lucky if they get refusals in reply, instead of nothing.

Writing, like any other area of work where expertise is attainable, requires a minimum of ten years of hard work before a few become overnight successes.

Can't a first time novel sell a million copies? Sure, but 200,000 new books are launched in the US (alone) each year and how many sell more than a few dozen copies? A pitiful few of the works of new writers.

The more experienced a writer becomes, the more he or she writes for a particular audience, rather than for themselves. Writing for yourself is salve for the soul, but it doesn't work for the souls of anyone else. Writing for someone other than yourself is the first lesson to learn, even though you must write on a subject you know well.

You know your writing is improving when you write something, read it over, and decide that it's crap and delete it. Only the writer who has been to the destination will return to fill up the potholes in the road for others.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems.' I have absolutely no reason why this article relates to the book. But check out the web site anyway.
Especially look at the Current Commentary section, which discusses how we may have been defrauded when we studies Greek Mythology in school.

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