Sunday, May 20, 2012

Breaking Barriers

There's this thin filament of a barrier that runs through my work. I call it, the word count problem. I've been taught for a long time now, that the sign of a good writer is being able to tell a story in a concise, clean and economical manner. That means I tend to have shorter word counts. I disdain padding, and superfluous descriptions. There was a point when my writing edged on anemic because of this barrier.

It can be very difficult to break past things like that. Sometimes, it seems that worst thing a budding writer can do, is major in writing. (I minored). You're inundated with ideas and practices and not all of them are very good. To be frank, there are a lot of instructors out there who have never been published and really don't know what it takes to get published. They are only interested in teaching you this book's manner or that book's method. They teach other people's writing methodology.

The best teachers I've ever had I can think of right away. Two of them were anonymous peers I met on a website. They tore my writing to shreds, toughened me up and very much molded me into the writer I am today. When, for the first time ever, one of them complimented me, it was the highest praise I could imagine. I knew I had earned it.

The third was a professor who helped me grow by giving me the room to do so. She encouraged my foibles and oddities and put me closer than I'd ever been to something every writer has to discover: Their style. She gave me a push towards the sometimes florid, concise contradiction that is my writing today.

Another professor helped me past my first word count hurdle. I broke 60K words with his help and wrote what is still the strangest, most complicated piece of fiction I've ever written (and rewritten and rewritten).

The last, was a strange man in a fedora. I truly found my style there. It was Florence, Italy and I had big dreams. I took a writing class to round out my schedule and was pleasantly surprised at what I found. I wrote poetry for the first time in years (some of it is even good) and while there discovered a passion for deeper and deeper plots.

These days, I still learn. I meet new people all the time that teach me things. It never ceases to amaze me what it is possible with the written word.

The barrier I broke day was an important one, which of course made me consider the past. Today I broke 75K words. The novel I'm working on will be my first to break 100K. It's a moment of pride for me, let me tell you. I rarely sprawl out in a novel, so this is a rarity for me. Hopefully, I can take this milestone and progress further to the next. Because that is what writing is all about.

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