Sunday, November 15, 2009

Lessons Learned

"Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration."
Thomas Alva Edison

I enjoy putting my thoughts on paper and sharing them with others. Yes, I am a writer. Notice I didn’t say that I want to be a writer. Writers write. Using this criterion, I call myself a writer without hesitation.

When I scratched out my first poem, I realized this writing thing was not as easy as it seems. Yet, the words still bubbled within like a volcano and nothing satisfied me until those words spilled from my head onto the blank page. It didn’t take me long to learn how much skill it takes to fine tune words until they paint an accurate picture of the thoughts, feelings, sights or sounds I wanted to convey. John Norley said "All things are difficult before they are easy". Pulling it all together is hard work. It takes time to research, edit, and revise the "little" things that make the difference between mediocre work and a highly polished, marketable product.

Fortunately, somewhere along the way, this writing thing gets easier, but, at the same time, it gets more difficult. Expectations are greater, reviews more critical, and the demand for improvement continuously escalates. Working on my first novel made me acutely aware of the value of tenacity. I learned that writing an hour or so every day or two or only when the mood strikes doesn’t produce the same results as writing regularly. Checking those emails, surfing the "net", even cleaning the toilet may sometimes seem like more fun, but the pay off won’t be a completed novel, packaged and on its way to an editor.

I’m sure you’ve heard people say someone "got lucky" when her novel was published. It makes you wonder if dedication and sacrifice really make a difference? Elmer Letterman tells us that "luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity." Will building your "writer’s tool kit" at seminars and conferences help? Could that information jump-start your imagination and get your creative juices flowing in the "write" direction? Could participating in writing contest, critique sessions, and hands on workshops be good building blocks for the future? I wonder- is it luck or preparation? I’ve learned not to count on "genius", or on things being "easy", or even on "luck". It’s preparation and perspiration that makes winners!

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