Saturday, December 17, 2005

What Makes a Writer?

Besides actual writers with published material for which they were paid, what is the difference between people who write well and people who aren't as good at it? Is it really just practice? If you write enough drivel, do you eventually learn how to write well?

I somehow doubt it. There is certainly some level of mastery that comes with practice, but much of the magic of the written word is conveyed by people with a talent for words, for the way they go together, and a willingness to try something non-standard and see how it goes.

Recently, I was at a party where I was mostly in a group with lots of people I didn't know. In these kinds of situations, I do generally get a little bit silly. It's also good to be able to read people's faces and feed off what they are enjoying, and what they are tolerating. At some point, one of the ladies in the group said I should write for this online magazine her daughter ran because they're always looking for fresh writers and I was cracking her up. I took the information about the magazine, but I could never do it. Writing is just a totally different skill than talking. I go back and read stuff I've written, and it bores me to tears. (I apologize to those of you that actually come to this page and read the drivel I put together.)

I know several people that really can write, and I am blessed to know them (and healthier for the laughter). I, on the other hand, will continue to write drivel until I can get it to be better drivel.


Aaron said...

Well, after reading your "The Drain Commissioner" entry I thought, wow, if you carried that onward it could make a great story. And a "drain commissioner" as a character, especially the twistedly interesting one you described, could lead down all sorts of metaphorical paths.

Heather said...

Hmmm...I didn't do well in that whole allegorical/symbolic part of most of my English classes. I will have to consider the possibilities. Thank you!

Monica said...

There are different kinds of writers/writings and some are more literal than others. Even everyday life has othermeaning and symbolism to it. Besides, no matter what you write, someone is bound to say you meant something different, so write away!

Aaron said...

Yes, write away. I wasn't saying you need to push the whole symbolism thing because that will just make you seem pretentious. Monica's right. I'm not some great writer, but I feel I've accomplished something if scratch away a page or more. On meaning: anything can be intellectualized.

James said...

Just write. If you love it and you have a need to do it, you're a writer (though maybe not in the eyes of the IRS, but what do they know?)

Sometimes you'll create drivel and sometimes you'll create art and often what you thought was the drivel is the art and vice-versa. It is a technical art. The technical side comes from practice, the other from inspiration. Inspiration comes sometimes and only if you're writing regularly.

You're right about being willing to try new things as well. That's important and part of the fun.

So write. Enjoy it. Have fun. Surprise yourself.