Notes from a Newbie
I remember the day I started seriously writing. It came at the hand of a hard critique. But not just any hard critique, the careful critique of a true mentor and friend. She graciously agreed to take a look at my writing project and give me her thoughts. I’d started writing a testimony of sorts, on my life, fiction style. Or so I thought.
This author wrote me back. Before uttering a word, I knew she’d think my writing was grand.
“Jessie, do you want me to do a full critique on this selection even if it’s tough? Or is this near and dear enough to your heart that you want me to lie to ya’ baby?”
My heart did a little studder step as I felt the sweat tickling down my neck. I hadn’t expected that. More like, “Gee you’ve got talent,” not because I’m really that arrogant. But I’d heard it before from teachers and friends.
I really thought on this one because suddenly I didn’t feel so confident. That story was my baby, the first “real” story I’d tried to write. I had awards from short stories and my sister had convinced me to start a blog but this WIP was about me.
I took a deep breath before typing my reply.
Would she say I had no talent and should forget about quitting my day job. Mom. Okay, I didn’t want to quit even then. I truly thought that you either had the talent or you didn’t. You could write a good book and engage people or you couldn’t and I feared the latter.
Break it to me soft. I wrote. If it is something I can learn, I’m all for it but if I just plain stink, break it to me soft.
She wrote back and to my surprise, assured me it could be learned. Studying the craft of writing would take time, commitment and years of work, but it most certainly could be done.
Thank goodness she took the time to tell me because I could have spent a year on my first sorry attempts at writing, sped off to the first writing conference I could find, pitched my immature scribbling and found that it didn’t measure up. I would have known I had no talent and I would have rolled up my scrolls and stuck to journal writing for the rest of my life, but she taught me it’s more than raw talent it’s work.
I’m still working and since my day job is Mom, I keep getting interrupted by little monsters who do things like crush peanut shells into my rug! But at least I can press on eager to learn and soak up all I can for a day when I’m not quite as interrupted.