Monday, October 31, 2011

Perfection, Flaws, and Character

Pouring rain, the feel of your lover's soft lips on your wet cheek, the sensation vibrating through the air at that simple brush of flesh on flesh, yeah, I've never been one for romance novels. This past week I read one. It was one of the best books I’ve ever read. If you’re interested, the book is by Jenny B. Jones, it is called There You’ll Find Me.
A particular quote struck me as I was reading it. This quote lodged itself in my mind and, though I have written it down, I can’t get it out. So, once more, I shall commit it to paper (on the web…) A peculiar nun named Sister Maria told the main character that “music is never perfect. It has flaws, it has character.”
Through the few days that have passed since I found this quote, I have come to the realization that it applies to writing as well. Writing is never perfect. It has flaws, it has character. No matter how hard the writer tries, his work is never perfect. But, it is those flaws, those imperfections that make his writing unique. Writers, do not concern yourselves with perfection. Concern yourselves instead with character, with developing your own style.
Sister Maria’s quote applies to life as well, perhaps that shall be the next post.
Keep writing my friends,
~Joshua A. Spotts

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Writing Tree

            On a blustery day a man sat beneath a tree. In one hand he held a feather pen and in the other he grasped a stack of paper. As he sat, pondering, he would laugh. A passerby, hearing the curious laugh, stopped to inquire; “Good sir, what are you doing beneath this tree with a feather pen, a stack of papers, and such a ridiculous laugh?”
            “I am writing a book, good man. This laugh though, it gives me endless trouble. You see, laughter makes hard things difficult to consider, oh, me! oh, my!”
            “May I humbly suggest a solution to your problem, good sir?”
            “By all means, yes,” answered the man beneath the tree.
            “Well, good sir, it seems that every time you do some thinking you are tickling yourself with your feather pen.” The stranger left.
            The man beneath the tree fashioned himself a pen from a twig and continued his work. He placed every page he wrote to his right. Another passerby stopped and watched the man labor for a while. Finally he asked, “Hullo, sir! What are you doing with that twig pen, a stack of paper, and no finished pages?”
            “I am writing a book, good man, but every time I finish a page the wind steals my work away and I must begin again.”
            “May I make a slight suggestion, sir?”
            “By all means, do so!”
            “It seems to me that if you were to place your finished pages beneath a rock the wind could not steal them away.”
            “Thank you, good man,” and the man continued his writing, placing his finished pages beneath a rock.
            Within a short while the sound of bagpipes filled the blustery air. The piper came marching along the trail and his song stopped abruptly when he saw the man beneath the tree. His march continued for a few thudding steps before he turned about and asked. “What are you doing?”
            “I am writing a book, good man, with this twig pen, stack of papers, and my finished work beneath this rock.” The man beneath the tree beamed with pride.
            The piper chuckled and adjusted his purple hat to sit more nobly upon his balding brow. He spoke, “I fear you are not.”
            The befuddled man inquired, “how so?”
            “You simply have no ink, daft sir.” 

By: Joshua A. Spotts 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Focus, no pride

Recently I wrote a short story in fifteen minutes for a writing class. I thought it was admittedly clever, but terrible as well. When I read it aloud in class my teacher said that he had been brought into the setting. There was a pause after the story ended, the class sat in shock. After a few long seconds they realized the hilariousness of the main character's predicament. Apparently it was good. I thought it sucked after I had read it out loud. 
This class period made me realize, once again, that the writer does not think of their own works as amazing. It also forces me to realize that I am not writing for myself, but for my readers. If it moves them in any way, or if they simply enjoy it, I am glad and have accomplished something with my writing. I hope I will never grow so prideful as to discard the reader. This would be the bane of my career, it would be the death of any true writer.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Rewards of a Writer

In my last blog I promised to explore the rewards of a writer. So, while at a writer's conference this weekend, I talked to the venerable Doctor Dennis Hensley about it. Unfortunately, our conversation was cut short because the session started. It did help me organize my thoughts on the matter though. Furthermore, I have talked with several other writers tonight on the matter and they have helped me further.
The reward of the writer is not money or fame. For example, Doc Hensley and one of his writer friends were talking. They joked back in forth in sarcasm.  "Why did we take this job, Dennis?"
"Oh, it must have been for the money!"
"Well, if not that, then surely the fame."
The writer who aims for such things is in for disappointment. They will never achieve the true rewards of the writer. It is probably one of twenty writers who ever gain a fortune through their writing. That is, without writing and saving all their life.
The rewards of the writer are strange. They are feelings-based, not material based. They are the feeling of fulfillment, glorious accomplishment! Michelangelo put so much effort into his sculptures that he literally put his blood into his work. After completing the David his hands were scarred, calloused, and bleeding. This is the effort good writers place into their work. The comparison of the editor's red pen to a knife and the marks on the manuscript to blood is very accurate. To finish a project that we have placed our entire beings into is an amazing feeling of fulfillment.
Another reward is a sense of happiness the Christian writer finds when their writing is published. They are happy that God is being glorified through their work. This is a noble purpose.
In truth, I believe the writer cannot obtain these rewards to the fullest if he is not writing to glorify God. The ability to write is a gift from God and therefore the rewards are much greater when used for him. Not the material rewards, though perhaps they will be, but the feeling rewards. That glorious happiness and sense of accomplishment!
Sincerely, dear reader, consider your purpose. Do you seek money or do you seek to glorify God?

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Sweet Victory

There is a certain feeling of joy, sorrow, and worry when a writer finishes a manuscript. This is the way I feel right now. Aye, I have finished a manuscript, at least, the first draft of a manuscript. It is important to make this distinction because of the vast process involved between the first draft and the manuscript that is published. There is self-editing, then re-editing, it helps to read the manuscript out loud multiple times, and then, of course, finding a publisher who is willing to invest in me.
There is a vast amount of work ahead of me, but I am ready for it. Writing is not an easy job. Indeed, it is not a job, it is a calling. It is a difficult calling, but a rewarding one. Not in fame or fortune...more on that later.

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