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"Hard is not hopeless." - General David Petraeus

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Writing Is NOT A Solitary Journey

Writers are guilty of often making the mournful claim that writing is a solitary journey. We talk of the lonely hours toiling away in front of the computer or our notebook, almost as if the weight of the world lies upon our shoulders as we create our next masterpiece for the literary world.

It simply isn’t so.

Is novel writing hard work? You bet. And in the grand scheme of things, I doubt a novelist recoups in pay what they expend in hours of labor, but it is a labor of love. Neither is it lonely. In the first place, I love to be alone. I am, after all, an introvert. But the chief reason novel writing is not a solitary endeavor is because so many people contribute to the making of your novel.

Think of all the people who pour themselves into YOUR novel:

1. Your crit partners
2. Those wonderful people who took years of their life to write a non-fiction book with just the research material you needed, and by extension, your network of friends who write in the same time period who are a wealth of information and eager to lend a hand
3. The historical societies, museums and other places you go to research
4. Your spouse, friend, or other close loved one who encourages you constantly, maybe even takes on some other task so you have more time to write
5. The people you’ve come in contact with throughout your life (for both good and ill) who have formed the backdrop of your life’s experiences from which you write and view your philosophy of life
6. Your Christian friends who pray for you
7. And most important, the Lord God, our Creator, who made it all possible.

If it were not for all of these people in my life, I could not write novels. I need life experiences from which to write. Sure, I may not have chased a bad guy on the back of a horse, but I’ve felt the need for justice. I may not have rescued a friend from a burning building, but I’ve tried to help a friend in times of trouble or wished desperately that I could.

And just think how truly awful our lives would be if we had to go out and collect all our information by ourselves? What if no one showed me the world was round? I’d either go forth in ignorance of the fact or have to spend years sidetracked on that journey to find out for myself.

Writing is not a solitary journey at all. It is filled with contacts, relationships, and learning experiences and quite probably the bettering of ourselves.

So like the son of encouragement from the Bible, Barnabas, I challenge us all as writers to offer encouraging words of thanks to the many, many people we likely take for granted, those people who make our novels possible.

1 comment:

Cathee said...

Spouse? Wait a minute - when did you get married? I didn't even know you've been dating. Details girl, details. :)