Today’s letter is I, which brings with it imagination, interior, inspire, invoke, incubate, idiosyncrasy, ideas, illuminate, ignore, if, irony, invite, and (as always and all ways, that double-edged word) ineffable.
Some days are more reading days than writing days, or if not reading, then maybe they are more looking days.
Like today, which is day 39 in a string of rainy and cool days when everyone in the province is expecting, oh, you know the sun chariot to streak across the sky bringing warmth and sunshine.
Okay, so it isn’t 39 days, it’s only five but I am ready to spit nails at the next person who says, “it’s liquid sunshine” because anyone who knows knows that liquid sunshine is not rain and it is not vitamin D. Liquid sunshine is an amazingly smooth and tummy warming gold Tequila that sells for about $100 CDN. But I can’t drink and write. It’s dangerous and illegal.
Speaking of writing. Because a good number of people want to write these days, a whole sub industry has exploded to take money from wannabe writers to tell them how to write, get published or self publish, how to entice publishers and agents. Scary stuff to navigate.
So on a break from writing things for clients, I foolishly decided to peruse 35 of the 126,000,000 sites about writing. Even if that number is inflated by 125,400,000 that’s a lot of sites about writing.
Many of the writing sites, be they blogs, websites, microblogs, tend to repeat the same information. That’s actually a good thing, sort of like the scientific method and the tried and true method of replication: if it’s repeatable and gets the same results, then the hypothesis is considered proven.
Let’s say that in general and to my knowledge, practical advice to writers has not changed much over the last 75 years. What HAS changed is the market (fickle) and the technology (fast) and the promotional machinery (um, necessary). It’s also fair to say that English grammar and word usage has evolved and morphed. In fact there are many, many different Englishes in the world now.
The interesting thing to me is that there is not necessarily a lot of talk about talent. There could be a few reasons for that: talent is often in the eye of the beholder; editors can edit and make the talent better; the industry and machinery keep talent a secret because it’s a competitive industry and really, talent is one of those ineffable things. Sometimes it is a talent that is unique to time and place. Other times, it is a raw talent that grows with discipline and maturity. Or it isn’t talent at all, just a kind of business savvy, sniffing the wind, reading the tea leaves, grokking the currents of the next cool thing, gathering what people want to read about and getting it out there first.
Here’s the thing: talent, a way with words, a story to tell or something to express is the starting point, but it is simply only and ever that, the starting point. The rest of it is hard work. Doing what you love doing — writing — might feel easy, but it is still work. Which coincidentally, on this rainy day I do not want to do right now. Which coincidentally, raises the issue of discipline to write every day. I cut myself some slack on this, but not often.
I will today, though. Today I got nothin’ to write, nothin’ to think and nothin’ to say and can’t conjure the discipline I need to work through it. So I’m avoiding writing and I am avoiding discipline and am instead surfing for fun stuff to read, to look at and ponder about reading and writing. Hope you enjoy.