13 February 2011

That We May Ever Strive

I should probably point out that I've switched the blog schedule around. At this point, I'm planning to post Tuesdays and Fridays. As we can see, I totally rock at keeping this schedule already. *insert Look here* So, let's all pretend it's Friday. After all, Friday evening is much more exciting than Sunday evening - hello, weekend!! O:) To aid you in this endeavour, I shall send you all imagination cookies via carrier bat. Rah.

Anyway, in wading through my feedreader today, I came across this gem from Nathan Bransford:

Writing is an act of getting down on your hands and knees and pushing on the ground and hoping the world spins on a slightly different axis. It's the art of not taking life for granted and trying to make something, anything change.

Go read the post; it's well worth it :) Essentially, what Nathan posits is that writers are, by definition, strivers; if one were happy with the world, one wouldn't write a book, after all. The act of writing is the act of petitioning for change. Even the books that are written off as 'fluff' are all trying to elicit change, all acknowledging that there is something in the world that needs improving on, even if that's only that people are sad and need to be cheered up. Escapist fiction, by its very definition, posits that the world needs escaping from.

I've talked about striving before to say that sometimes, even when we don't hit our goals, it's the very act of striving that counts. I think writing is part of that 'sometimes'. It's all too easy to lose sight of why we write when faced with rules and guidelines and agents and publishers and thoughts about the 'end goal' of writing as publishing. But really, I'm not here, presenting myself to you as a writer, because I want to be published. Okay, sure, that's part of it, but publishing is not my end; it's a means to my end.

My end is change. I write because I'm a writer, and writers strive. They strive for change, and usually to improve the world in some way, if even only by highlighting the bad and providing no solution beyond 'humans must die'.

In the throes of my first ever total from-scratch rewrite, I'm really glad I stumbled on this piece of advice today. Because during the rewrite, it's so tempting to concentrate on the fact that I'm rewriting it to make it better for people to read - which is to say, publication, in whatever form. But really, that's not why I'm rewriting. I'm rewriting because the original story, while fun, and while it had its shining moments, was not the story I wanted to tell. It wasn't the change I wanted to address; it wasn't what I wanted to strive towards. And the words flow much more easily when I concentrate on the heart of my story.

I'm going to end this the same way Nathan Bransford did: with some words from the great F. Scott Fitzgerald, reminding us once more that it is the very act of striving that's important - not so much the thing one strives towards (although that has importance too, in determining our direction):

"that's no matter--tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther... And one fine morning — So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."


Michelle Davidson Argyle said...

Oh my goodness, thank you for these thoughts. I'm in the middle of a revision for Breakaway and I needed to hear this. All parts of writing can be so daunting! I can't wait to see your work, Inky One. :)

Amy Laurens said...

*hugs* Thanks, Oh Glam-erous One. I'm so hearing you on being stuck in the middle of revisions. *cookies* for you. And *more hugs* :)

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