Monday, August 16, 2010
If You're Digging an Endless Ditch, Bill Schulz is Your Best Friend
Good writing is hard work. Am I the only one who once thought it would be easier?
When I was young, and realized I had some talent, I think there was a feeling of inevitability about success, about good writing. I would read a lot, and practice writing, and there it would be: a bit of great writing of my own.
Yet the longer I live, the more I realize how much work is required. The craft seems to get more complex as we go along, rather than simpler. Revise and edit, and then revise and edit again... It's one hefty ditch we have to dig. And sometimes it feels like we're digging with a spoon.
I think I've known for years that perseverence is often just as important as talent. You need talent, but it won't take you anywhere without hard work. And yet the sheer weight of that work as you progress... you want to be a published novelist? It's going to take effort. Effort on effort on effort.
Doggedness is so important. Not just to study the craft, not just to write day after day. But to face rejection and continue. To face critique and step up to it only to face critique again. And again. Because an agent is going to critique. And then an editor. A copyeditor. Reviewers. Readers. And you simply have to continue writing, digging, working.
And it's harder early on, when you are so uncertain of success (however you define success). How do you keep digging?
Good ol' Charlie Brown, right? There's something a little sad and funny about his determination, and yet there's a joy in his optimism, a sort of hope that is almost heroic. He's always there to take another kick at the ball, though chances at success are slim. All your life, Charlie Brown, all your life.
But he's dogged. He's gonna keep pushing. If Charlie Brown had a ditch to dig, I have this feeling he wouldn't be stopped. Can anyone here picture Charlie Brown putting down the shovel? If there's one thing Charlie Brown won't do, it's quit.
What about you? How do you keep digging? What pushes you through to draft 27 despite everything standing in your way?