A few years ago I wrote a book. Yep, I wrote a 500 page book over the summer…just sat down and wrote a book. Why? Well, that part still amazes me. I was having trouble finding something to read, which is a common problem of mine(I’m sure I will blog about why that is at some point!) so I had an idea for a story and I just wrote it. I wrote it all in longhand, in journals and in pencil. And I loved it! I loved the process, the story, the scratching sound of the pencil on the paper…everything!
After completing this massive work I typed it out, that part I did not love! So now I have a typed out 500 page book! Now what?
Well, my husband finally convinced me to attend a writers group. I went. Everyone was very friendly…until it was my turn to read.
I read one of my favorite parts. I looked up all hopeful and expectant. And then, and then…wham! I got slammed! Slammed into the ground for “breaking so many rules!” Apparently I was guilty of “telling and not showing”, overuse of flashbacks, inappropriate use of dialogue tags, the wrong viewpoint, etc. What was everyone talking about? I am not an uneducated person. I did attend college and was familiar with several rules when writing a research paper, but I thought when you wrote a story – a work of fiction- you just wrote the story! Sure, it had to make sense and use correct grammar, but rules – what rules!!
For the rest of the meeting I sat blinking back tears, praying the floor would swallow me up. The good news is I had a couple of people from that very group tell me not to pay attention to the “rule police.” They told me they liked my story very much.
Since then I have been fortunate enough to work with some very talented writers who I am proud to say have become close friends. They have helped me immensely, because it turns out that dialogue tags are important and it is tough on the reader when viewpoints flip around!
I wanted to share this story because of the learning experience. While I am still not a big supporter of “writing rules” I am a big supporter of learning. When I look at my work now I am proud of it. Sure, it is far from perfect, but it is cleaner and clearer and better.
Writing is not just about story, it has many subtle layers. It is a craft in every way and I am so grateful for those talented women who have shared their knowledge with me. They never bash me and they are always there to talk me in off the ledge when I realize that yet again, I have little to no sense of grammar. Of course I am still a work in progress and in the end it may prove my love of exclamation points has become to much for them!!!!
(OOPS! Sorry!! Wait! I did it again!! I can’t stop!! Heellp!!!)
Thank you Donna, Michele and Lois– you mean a lot to me.