Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Path To Becoming A Writer

Found this pic posted up on Facebook this morning by several writer friends of mine, and I just had to share here because of how remarkably apt it is--especially for me. I mean, wow! You wouldn't know it, but I'm amazed that I meet 7 of the 9 prerequisites here, and have come close to or will eventually meet the remaining two requirements.

Holy hell! Of course, I won't be giving away the details of just which 7 I meet. But I can admit that, sadly, all of the negative ones have already happened to me. And that's all I'm going to say on that front.

Still, this comic strip reminds me of something one of my writing instructors once told me; a poignant lesson I've never forgotten. It was after I had taken a huge break of some 8 years from writing after graduating from college. I asked this instructor why, after so many years of almost no writing, did I suddenly have so much to say and write about? And her response was that sometimes we have nothing worthwhile to write about until we've gone out into the world and lived real life for a couple of years. In other words, our every day experiences shape us--for better or for worse--in ways that can directly correlate to our writing. The more of life's harsh lessons you live through, the more your writing takes on a nuance and discipline you might never have enjoyed before as a novice student.

Now, this is not to say that you had to have personally lived through a Shakespearean tragedy in order to become a good writer, no. However, I will say that age and experience has certainly changed the way that I write my stories now. The stories I wrote in my teen years were whimsical and full of cliches. And while the stuff I write today is still on the far-fetched and tropish side of things to some extent, I have noticed that my writing is oftentimes morally ambiguous now. My protagonists are not always these white-bread paragons of truth and justice, nor are my villains so simply evil for evil's sake. Or at least, I try not to make them so. I still get burned every now and then by my critique group (especially for my thinly constructed antagonists at times), but for the most part my writing reflects the increasingly complex moral world I find myself co-inhabiting with roughly 4.4 billion other hairless apes on this planet. Do any of us really know what we're doing in life? Do we???

Anyway, enough navel gazing for now. In other news . . . expect my weekly Game of Thrones recap to be a little late. I simply haven't had a chance to watch last Sunday's episode yet. But when I do, you'll be the first to hear about it.

In the meantime: how about you? Does this comic strip reflect your own path to becoming a writer? I mean, is your cat really that loyal? Really?

Think about it.


Ashe Hunt said...

Yes, Starshine was very loyal! Now that school is done we'll see what path my writing takes!

Libby said...

I had to live a little before I could write as well. To know life is important for writers.

David Batista said...

Practice, practice, practice is the only path it can take at this point. No amount of schooling, research, or wishful thinking can get you closer to realizing your dream than simply putting butt in chair and writing until your fingers fall off. Day in, day out, rain or shine. And I'll be right there with you, because I still have lots and lot of practice to do myself!

David Batista said...

Hi Libby! Yes, so I see you've learned this lesson as well. Getting out and about, traveling the world, seeing how other people live and in turn examining your own bad (or good) decisions in life really makes one grow up fast and obtain a better perspective on things. And perspective, as we know, can be a writer's most essential tool.

Botanist said...

Maybe coming to writing so late in life isn't such a bad thing after all :)

I think I can claim six out of the nine, but I'm a bit disappointed that they limit us to just one episode of debauchery.

Kim Kasch said...

I took years off from writing while I was raising the kids. Now I have a little more time for myself. :)

Yvonne said...

I've experienced all but two on your comic strip, I don't have a pet, loyal or otherwise, and I don't have a spouse. And I refute the ONE debauchery episode, we cannot be limited to just ONE. heh. For me, as a writer, I know that I have grown tremendously. Writing has taught me that in order to perfect the craft, we need to step away sometimes, to live life, to experience, to suffer, to love, etc. My stories and have certainly gotten better with age. But we have to be careful, because sometimes, a little break, turns into a long one, or a permanent one. We must always practice our craft, otherwise, it wil go stale. At least, that's how I tend to look at this. -Thanks for writing this, I really needed to read it. :)

David Batista said...

I was thinking the same thing. I mean, I didn't get serious about it until 2006 at the age of 30. Young, I know, but I felt too old at the time to only just then be getting back into writing. Little did I know.

Oh, and I just read it as "episodes" of debauchery, plural. :)

David Batista said...

I know, you're like Iron Woman over there in Portland. Good luck on the upcoming marathon!

David Batista said...

Yeah, I've been on a prolonged break these past several months which I am none too happy about. I'm so disciplined at it when I am in the midst of a project, but I need to kick myself to return to that discipline now. It's been a long enough break, time to get back. I still have stories to tell! :)

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