Some may instantly recognize the first two authors, but the last one aka me, *laugh* isn`t published yet. But God willing soon it will happen. Papers are being signed, handshakes given and ITIN applied for.
Recently I read some of the ROSA`s (Romance writers` Organization of South Africa) novels. And man, are these ladies good! Not just good as in-they can throw a reasonable sentence together- but really good as in-grab you by the *cough* and drag you by the *cough* until you`re coughing up *bleep* I don’t care what genre you write in, if you have the basics of writing down, like these ladies, than you`ll be successful.
During the week I chatted with a writer on FB. I wanted to know how far she was with the writing process. She had a good understanding of where she wanted to go and I gave her some tips I`ve learned along the way. But my motivation for contacting her *sigh* alas I didn`t really come out and say it. Because well…we writers are sensitive, we don`t take well to criticism of any kind. We get over it, can recognize the wisdom of it, but initially we don`t take it well.
And I`ve read some work of this FB writer buddy of mine and knew that, if what I`ve read, was what she`s sending off to publishers than she needed to get some eyes on her work. And now you`re asking, ‘but Inge what qualifies you to make such a judgment?’ And no, it`s not because I think I`m such a great writer. *shaking head* No. It`s because I am a READER. I love reading. I`ve been reading since whenever (can`t remember when I started) and can identify a book that grabs you by the *cough* and drags you by the *cough* until you`re coughing *bleep* And her writing lacked that. It had all the elements of a good story. I could see some pearls in there. All that was needed was the polish.
And I asked myself afterward (no not why I didn`t tell her this) but why is it that some authors just get it right? How come some just have a feel for writing? If you ask them, did you study languages or do a degree in Creative Writing, they shake their heads. Take my brother for instance, he could be the next André P. Brink but did he study languages? Did he even do a writing workshop? No. He studied science! *hands in the air* Seriously! Seriously!
He`s going to kill me when he reads this even though it`s years later, but I remember being in high school and he was home from varsity for the holidays. He always had this stack of papers and notebooks he used to write in. Well after the holidays he forgot some of his notebooks. And me curious Nelly that I am, went into his room and paged through them. I was GOBSMACKED! This man could write about standing in a room looking out a window into the dark midnight air like it was some lyrical-poetic yet charged with energy and suspense- scene! I couldn`t write like that! I CAN`T write like that!
If people ask me who my writing heroes are I say quickly – all time favorite Jane Austin. But I love Francine Rivers and Frank Perreti`s style of writing too. But what they wouldn`t know (and now do) is that I measure my writing, my stories, my ability to that one scene I read of his years ago. The memory of it is still fresh. It haunts everything I write. Not in a bad way mind you (do you get ‘good’ haunting?) but in a way that it motivates me to write better.
I`ve read great writing, I know what it ‘sounds’ like, feels like, leaves you with. Because good writing always leaves you with something. Joss Wood and Elsa Winckler are those kind of authors. The genre doesn`t matter. It`s the author`s ability to bring something, but also to- leave something of worth that makes the difference.
In hindsight I wish I had the courage to say this to the FB writer. That genre doesn`t matter: If you`re a good writer, you can truly write anything.
- Don’t Run From Who You Are: Writing Advice From George Saunders & Cheryl Strayed (thoughtcatalog.com)
- Look What I Found, Advice from Two of My Favorite Writers (ilovegeekology101.wordpress.com)