Thursday, December 30, 2010

Work at it until it's worthwhile

     When baking, I often find that Marianne's shelves, though well stocked, lack one or even several prescribed ingredients to complete the recipe.  Sometimes I'll just pick another entree, but if I really want my original choice, I'll go to the store and find what I need to complete the job.  Same with a construction project, crafts, and nearly any other thing we endeavor to do in our lives.  Writing is no different.  Often we convince ourselves that mere talent is what will make us successful, and we either have it or we don't.  Well I'm here to say that is a ridiculous notion, and simply isn't true.  That some of us are blessed with unique gifts that often make various pursuits a little easier, or natural to us, is true, but beyond the gift, or knack we may have, the rest is all work, requiring much committed effort.  The fact is that most to whom things come without much effort, become lazy in the ease of their way, and fail to ever reach their potential.  Others, however, who struggle through obstacle after obstacle in chasing their dream, or simply achieving a personal goal, rise to heights they never thought possible, and are the few who taste the sweetness of their well deserved prize.
     The secret is not to allow impatience to dictate what we will accept as adequate, we always should expect and hold ourselves to our best.  I once had an art professor tell the class that we shouldn't allow ourselves to fall into the "Masterpiece Syndrome", meaning we shouldn't expect every thing we drew or painted to be great.  Although I understand the basis for his statement, I believe that for an artist to subscribe to such a philosophy is the surest way to secure a life of mediocrity that there is.  Sure, putting so much pressure on our every endeavor, that we end up in a fetal ball sucking our thumb, isn't something I would advise, however, to accept less than the best we are capable of, simply because time is up, or we didn't have garlic, goes counter to who we aspire to be, and our primary goal, which is to create something that will make an impact.  Often, we simply to take more time.  Go ahead and toil over every sentence, if it's not worth the effort, don't waste your readers time.  Leave it out.
     This is what I meant when I said to search, study and record.  Find the ingredient you lack, study it, live it so that it becomes central to you, then you can write about it with passion and believability where previously you couldn't.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Genisis of my writing

Eight months ago, while visiting a wonderful group of girls in a local youth academy, one of them upon learning that I was about to be published, expressed to me that her greatest desire was to write a book that she could someday see in print.  Immediately my mind rushed back to Richfield High school in central Utah to my days in Mrs. Potter's AP English class.  It was there, hearing her break down American classics, poetry, and our own essays that my desire to write my own book began.
     It was a time when few families living in rural Utah had typewriters, and personal computers were less than a twinkle in our brilliant inventors minds, leaving me with only a pen and notebook as tools to begin my ambicious project.  Kid, the main character in Search For Yesterday, was at that time in my imagination, a small child, similarly left to fend for himself after mobs killed his family and destroyed his home.  From that starting point, I envisioned him making an improbable journey west, frought with danger, lonliness, innocent humor and grand adventure, planing to segment his story into several successive books as he grew in age and stature.
     At least three times over the five years that followed graduation, I put my pen to paper, resigned to complete my goal, however each time, I found the same obsticle blocking my way.  Though my desire was real enough, and my ability and committment strong, I found that I lacked sufficient life experience from which to draw believable subject matter to build my story.  Interesting personalities were also a critical ingredient for creating enough diversity in my characters to stand up to the skrutiny of educated readers, and I simply didn't have those ingredients.  That I couldn't with focused observance, research, and enough elbow grease, eventually gather what I lacked, is not at all what I believe, but somewhere in the trying, life got in the way, and it wasn't until nearly thirty years later, that things changed for me.
     The more I think about my experience, seeing the success of young writers from all walks of life, I believe that any of you artists, if you are willing to actively search, study and record society, nature, philosophy, science, and yourselves, can effectively gather the things I lacked, even if you are young and inexperienced in life.  Then again, if like me, life's necessary committments take you away from your passion for a time, my hope for you, like the young lady in the girls home and so many others that have approached me since then, is that you will stay after it!  Keep your dream flickering inside, and when your moment arrives, sieze it.  It's an awesome, exhillerating experience, just seeing the kinds of things you can produce.  Good Luck, and don't ever give up.