Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Writer's Blockparty

For as long as I could, I've always wanted to keep on writing. In my mid-late teens, it became an ambition - I enrolled in a feature-writing journalism course through the London School of Journalism. I wrote book reviews for a comparatively large regional newspaper. I volunteered my skills at a small, community newspaper. I critiqued amateur poets' work. I even got positive feedback based on my samples from large, national magazines when pitching myself as a potential, student freelancer. Needless to say I read fervently - important news, classical literature, vintage and modern beat-poet tomes like Cuckoo's Nest and The Beach, and some classics like Shakespeare and Nietzsche.
  • It was fun - I received free books to review, and on-sold them or donated them to the local library. 
  • It was important - for the first time in my life, I believed I had some real talent in something other than sports, or "being the nice, quiet guy"
  • It was naive, but innocent nonetheless
Breaking into print is really not that hard; anyone with a half-decent vocabulary, who can string comprehensible sentences together to form a cohesive story together, can do it. After all, "creative writing" and "journalism" are offered as school-level courses. This isn't astrophysics. 

Finding a voice is pretty easy too, once you understand your market, and your audience. It's easy to whore yourself out to anyone who would be willing to pay you bottom-dollar rates in an intensely competitive industry, with a byline for your efforts. You write. They pay. You get the credit. For some writers this is like free crack on christmas day; they buy into it, and give it their all. Some become alcoholic, egotistical, print journalists. And don't we love them for it. 

Developing and honing a unique voice within a distinct market is an altogether different story. In fiction or non-fiction. It's not easy. I think people forget that, just like any other career, professional writing has its substantial fair share of dropouts - people very capable on paper, but not the paper that mattered - their "customers" (readers), in other words. It takes practice - years of practice - which most never master. 

In 2013, I'm going to try and write a novel. I don't care if it doesn't get published. I won't blame myself. I won't blame my friends or family who will support me through this arduous, lengthy process. No. If nothing comes of it, I'll blame you. Wish me luck. Now leave. 

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