Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A Writer’s Path: Part One

I’ve been writing for years now. I first started writing back when I was 17. I had finished reading a trilogy called the Cold Fire Trilogy, and decided that I was going to try making my own story up. I had been into a great deal of high-fantasy fiction and so that’s the genre I began with. My first story got to page 40 or so (I still have it saved away on some external hard drive floating around somewhere). It was only the intro to a longer novel. That story was left on hold when I went on a two year mission for my church. Once I came back to it I wanted to start on something else. It’s sat there ever since. But that one story got me hooked. Though I didn’t finish that book, I knew (from having my brother look it over and say, “pretty good, you could have something here”) that I wanted to become a writer once out of high school.

As you may have realized by now, being a “writer” is a profession that almost has no guidelines or boundaries—no one true path to becoming a successful published writer. There are so many obstacles to overcome, so many pitfalls and trials to make it through.

Me on a very overcast day in FL

When I learned to snowboard, I picked it up in just a few visits to the mountain. Why? Because I could stand up, try snowboarding, and if I fell down, I could then just get back up and try again. When I learned to surf, it took much longer. Why? Because waves come in sets, sometimes 15 minutes or more apart. I got one try during that time to stand up. During a surf session, I may only get 5 or 10 tries to learn how to surf. I couldn’t just try any time I felt like it as with snowboarding.

Me and Nikki in CA camping out with some friends
Why do I mention these two examples? Because writing is much like surfing. You only get a few tries every hour allotment. Say I write a book. This is my first book. I try to publish it. This is my “set of waves” just as with surfing. Maybe I don’t stand up the first time. Maybe no publisher accepts my book. But I learned something from the experience. Perhaps I got feedback from publishers that my plot and pace of my book felt rushed, and that my characters were underdeveloped. OK, so my first attempt helped me learn, but now I’m looking at either weeks or months of revisions to my book, or I could start over on a new one—wait for the next “set” if you will.

There’s more to it than this, but writing in many ways can be a long, drawn-out process like this. It could take weeks to get some feedback from friends, editors, or publishers, and it can take years to learn how to “stand up” and become a successful published author.

This is part of a three-part post. The second part of this article will be up tomorrow.

My board Swordfish

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