Sunday, July 05, 2009

The True ART Of Writing

Writing is an art. Don't let anybody tell you different. You're either gifted with this talent, or you're not. That doesn't mean you can't develop your talent; taking it from beginner to advanced. Talent given to artists, it seems to me, is awarded in varying degrees. I think God expects that once we discover our talent we must do something with it.

Yes, yes, like wine and cheese, a talent often requires that we age a little. A few decades of hard work to bring out the "Michelangelo" in some of us is a good thing. But what I'm wondering is, why are there so many published authors out there who continue to write one bad book after another? Is their fan base that strong? Are their stories so fantastic that the quality of writing is overlooked?

My husband thinks its because they wrote and published their first works way back in the 70s or 80s, and some in the 90s. When the competition wasn't like it is today. When publishers published anybody with a pulse and a half-way decent story. Over time, they developed a platform, a fan-base, that never went away. These writers didn't have to worry about a pristine-perfect query letter; marketing and promotion; 225 rejection letters. I can't tell you how many "mistakes" I find while reading published books. Mistakes that these authors get away with, while the rest of us unknowns would be rejected for. I think these authors continue to rest on their laurels. Well, some of them.

Others, mind you, deserve their good fortune. They paid their dues. I applaud them. The few of them.

At this moment, I'm heavily entrenched in reading. I'm deep into two novels at once. Actually, I'm studying the writing. Asking myself, why these writers? What is it about their work that makes them a success? These two well-known, New York Times bestselling authors have sold millions of copies.

The first writer, I'm concluding, is brilliant. Her story is mind-blowing. Though a very, very long book, I find she captures and holds you for ransom, insisting that you read well into the night. The depth of her research rivals that of any scientist, I assure you. Along with her millions of fans, I find myself lost in the made-up world she created by what else? Her talent.

The second writer, well-known, her work is seen on retail shelves in every state. Bookstores, grocery stores, and otherwise. (No, it's not Danielle Steele. They can't give "her" books away at fire sales in my neck of the woods.) No, the author I'm talking about, her work is full of air. That's my best description for it. Hot air. The reading is easy, true enough, you can fly through a 300 page novel. But the stories are surface. Flat. There's no depth to them. As if she wrote it quickly. Didn't take the time to have it edited for content. I'm skimming through chapters. On top of that, the story is not plausible. I hear myself saying, "Yeah, right. Like that would happen!"

Thing is, the first author writes about time travel. It's far easier for me to believe her story than that of the second author who simply wrote about a rich woman waking up one morning and finding herself destitute. Her adoringly-rich husband, whom she has loved with all her heart, has died and left his billions to his mean and horrible siblings.

I think it all boils down to one thing. Talent. How they tell the story, draw you in, hold you captive.

To write well is to allow the story to boil over and spill into your hands as you type or print. It's feeling, no- I mean really feeling what your character is experiencing. Can you pour yourself into another body? Are you able to transport yourself to another place and relay it, in all its beauty or horror to your reader? Can you write a great story and make me want to devour every word as if my life depended on it?

Can you?

That's the true art of writing.

Blessings to you and yours.

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