Sunday, July 11, 2010

My First Day

Except for a guest post I did once upon a time, this is my first post on Novel Spaces. (I almost put in the link until I realized I was on the page I’d link to.) I want to begin by thanking everyone here at the “Spaces” for inviting me to be a part of this august group. I won’t suggest that I’m going to add any great insights that others here haven’t had, or won’t have themselves, but I hope to do my part. I’ll pull my weight or haul my freight.

So, what to talk about in post number 1? How about: “what writing isn’t, and what writing is?” Here’s some of my thoughts on those subjects.

1. Writing isn’t magic. Most people have the language skills to do it. It doesn’t require some secret talent that only the lucky few are born with. It’s not a gift from the gods.

2. Writing isn’t easy. It’s not something you can decide to toss off during an occasional afternoon. It takes time and commitment; it takes work. This is why, though many could do it, most don’t.

3. Writing is not a quick way to riches. Stephen King got rich. Anne Rice did. Dan Brown did. You probably won’t. Though if you do, take me with you to the top. I’d like some money, too, and goodness knows I haven’t seen much of it yet.

4. Writing isn’t glamorous. It’s closer to being a farmer than a movie star. It’s closest, perhaps, to being a school teacher or a librarian. (I’ve been all of these except movie star, by the way, but I’m sure my Hollywood breakthrough is coming any day now.) If you’re expecting to become famous and glamorous enough to have the paparazzi stake out your house, well then you certainly have the imagination needed to be a writer. (See my note about my Hollywood breakthrough.)

5 Writing is one of the best ways to amuse yourself. I’m never bored except when I’m at the mercy of someone else, as when I’m trapped in a meeting, for example. Even then I can almost always come up with an amusing story to pass the time. Sometimes it’s about the bored folks sitting around me in the meeting.

6. Writing is habit forming. If I go more than a day or two without writing, I start to feel incomplete. I feel like I’ve forgotten something. I feel like I better get my butt into my chair and do what I’m supposed to do.

7. Writing is important. It’s not the most important job in the world but it has many rolls to play in promoting human welfare. It can educate and entertain. It helps heal emotional wounds and inspires movements toward freedom and justice. Most of all, it helps us recognize our common humanity in the face of an inhuman universe.

Those are some of my opinions. What are yours?


Natasha Fondren said...

#7 is great, Charles!

Writing also teaches us compassion by forcing us to walk in someone else's shoes for a bit. A good exercise.

Evan Lewis said...

It's closer to being a farmer than a movie star. That's a line that should be in every how-to book, and on the lips of every writing instructor.

Deka Black said...

For me, the #6. I need to write. And you know, helps to avoid certain things. I quit smoking more tha 10 years ago. And i returned to writing for two reasons: ideas what i need put in words. And being busy with something what help me to no smoke.

And of course. if i go more than a single day without write, i feel bad. Like i distrust my characters.

Ocean Girl said...

I'll remember all, no.7 is most poignant. The pen is mightier than the sword.

G said...

I agree with #6 in that writing is habit forming.

I'm now at the point where if I don't try to write something, a couple of lines, a paragraph, or just an outline of an idea for a post or a current story, I have a tendency to go a little ga-ga.

And considering what I do for a daytime job, to do anything during one's down time besides work is fraught with danger.

the walking man said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
the walking man said...

I will never find what I do not look for in writing. And I do not write about what I am not looking for.

I scoff at the many writers who are so "ready" for the big time but don't realize that the only big time there is lay between the ears. The rest is simply icing not the cake.

I write a lot, many times more word count than will ever see a blog post or a publication. I spend hours every day writing or editing but never, absolutely never, agonizing over it.

Writing is a form of entertainment and communication. I like this form more than others, so I continue on in it. when I don't care to do it anymore I will stop.

Liane Spicer said...

It's great to have you with us, Charles.

Absolutely true, and I identify with most of these. I'm never bored either, except in the very cases you mentioned. And I can think of few things more horrifying than losing my relative anonymity and being staked out by paparazzi.

A little bit of money would be welcome, though... ;)

Charles Gramlich said...

Natasha Fondren, writing really has helped me broaden my thoughts and feelings about many things, and about the human race in general.

Evan Lewis, ;) I guess you can take the boy off the farm but not the farm out of the boy.

Deka Black, writing is a kind of addiction. And like many, it gets stronger when you feed it.

Ocean Girl, the work of the pen certainly lasts longer than the work of the sword. Absolutely.

G, I’m absolutely the same way. That’s why I don’t really take vacations from writing, although I do take the occasional day off.

Mark, the walking man, I do agonize over it at times. Most of the time I simply love writing. But at times there is a touch of the old love/hate thing.

Liane Spicer, thanks. And I really appreciate everyone inviting and welcoming me.

Deka Black said...

And more healthy than smoking!

Erik Donald France said...

Fantastic, Charles -- right on. Enjoyed every point.

Charles Gramlich said...

Deka, indeed!

Erik, thanks. I appreciate you visiting.

BStearns said...

Great post Charles! Those are some great points about writing. I know my biggest problem is the habit. I merely give too little of time to it, which I know I should change. I do agree completely with writing being the best way to amuse yourself. I've always got thoughts bouncing around in my head, and I know that getting them down is much more satisfying. Awesome first post!


Charles Gramlich said...

Bryan, I seem to be avoiding writing myself today. I think I've got a bit more thinking to do on the current wip.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Writing is a way of giving your life meaning-of transcending the prosaic. Thanks, Charles.

Heff said...


Charles Gramlich said...

Pattinase, yes it is. Yes it is.

Heff, well, I guess I've seen a fair amount of money if the truth be told. but I've just seen it 'passing through' on it's way elsewhere.

Ron Scheer said...

I grew up on a farm. The analogy is perfect.

I disagree with #1 a little. There is something like "magic" in writing. It's the unexpected, unintended, unplanned for connections and revelations that happen when you're in the middle of something you're working on.

As a teacher of writing, I'm also not sure that everyone has the "skills" for it. If they do, the skills are often blocked by a whole bunch of ideas and rules about what writing is supposed to be.

But in general, I have to agree with you.

Stefanie Worth said...

Hey, Charles -- Welcome to Novel Spaces!

#3 struck a chord with me. I remember a Journalism School instructor telling an auditorium full of wannabe reporters that they could not teach us how to write. He believed that it was a talent you either did or did not possess. His job, as he saw it, was to teach the mechanics of news writing.

Over the years, I've come to understand his thinking. While I agree with your #1, that what we do isn't magic, if an aspiring writer doesn't have a mental rabbit in a hat per se, I think this trade will be much more difficult for him or her.

Charles Gramlich said...

Ron, it certainly seems like magic at times, when the flow is really going. I like to think of it as being in the zone though, and it's only magic in the sense that a basketball player might be in the zone with his shots, or an artist in the zone with her painting, or a quarterback with his passes.

Stefanie, I think, in part, we're talking about desire. The desire has to be there, and where it comes from isn't clear. Some combination of genetics and experience I imagine.

David J. West said...

Exactly Charles. Whenever I'm not writing I start getting grumpy around the house and feeling empty, like I haven't accomplished anything-regardless of how many things I did do outside of writing.

Charles Gramlich said...

David, I know. That's certainly true for me.

Farrah Rochon said...

A couple of days late, but I had to pop in to say how very happy I am to have you here at Novel Spaces.

While I was nodding my head as I read through your list, it's #3 that made me chuckle. It's amazing how many people think that all you have to do is publish a book and you're instantly rich (Dad is still wondering why I haven't bought him and my mom a house yet).

There are so many things that writing is not, but the one thing that it is makes up for it: FUN! (Umm...except when I'm revising, then it's not so much fun).

Deka Black said...

Revising is like you were again a 8 year old listening your mother yelling at you "clean your beedroom! wash your hands!" Something annoying but necessary sometimes ;)

Middle Ditch said...

Late as ever. Good post Charles and I agree with them all.

Shauna Roberts said...

I'm glad you're joining us at NovelSpaces and really, really glad your fans came along. Welcome, Charles' friends.

Charles Gramlich said...

Farrah Rochon, thanks for the welcome. Yes, fun is the best reason for doing it.

Deka Black, yeah, sometimes mom's do know best. And sometimes our internal editor does as well.

Middle Ditch, thanks for dropping by and commenting. I appreciate it.

Shauna Roberts, it was great so many of my fellow bloggers showed up. I appreciate them all.

Jewel Amethyst said...

I'm a little late, but welcome to Novel Spaces. And your post: true on all accounts. I'm yet to see the glamour and wealth in writing, but I love it anyway.

KeVin K. said...

Welcome, Charles.

Writing was supposed to be my glamor, my money maker -- but I'm a guy whose day jobs have been education and community services. I'm not really income motivated and glamor... I'm not even sure I'd know it when I saw it.

One thing writing is is something I cannot not do. That's my working definition of a writer: someone who has no choice.

Charles Gramlich said...

Jewel, we have to love what we get, I guess.

KeVin, I find that I can't keep away from writing either.