Friday, July 16, 2010

Write Hard, Write Fast, And the Fire of Creation Will be Yours

On July first, Michelle Gregory over at Beautiful Chaos hosted a blogfest called Share Your Darlings and participation entered you in a contest for a book drawing. I won and received The Art of War for Writers by James Scott Bell in the mail this week. Thank you, Michelle!

I've read a few chapters and I have to say, its a great book for motivation.  Bell took the battle strategies of the great Sun Tzu, a Chinese general writing around 400 B.C, and applied them to the war writers fight for publication.  In it, he explains reconnaissance of marketplace, tactics for editing and refining premise, and business strategy.

One of the most useful chapters was actually one of the first. Chapter two discusses essentials that writers must posess, or develop, to be successful in the publishing industry.
  1. Desire
  2. Discipline
  3. Commitment to Craft
  4. Patience
  5. Honesty
  6. Willingness to Learn
  7. Business-Like Attitude
  8. Rhino Skin
  9. Long-Term View
  10. Talent
Now, I have to admit I winced at a few. Namely number 8. Critiques are hard for me to take, but recognize their value and try to learn from them. I have the desire to write, don't feel right in my head when I'm not. Okay, doing well, down the list we go...

Discpline - check, Commitment to Craft - check; I'm always trying to hone my skills, Patience - not so much...and then I hit Honesty...the willingness to confront my weaknesses. *scratches head* Hmm...moving on.  Next we have Willingness to Learn - I don't fight with my critique partners and I rarely set my manuscripts on fire so I'll count that as a 'check'.

The next few got harder. Business-Like Attitude - Can I become more informed about the process of publication and how can that help me as an 'artist'?  Sure. Number eight - Rhino Skin. *winces* I'm getting there. I'm no longer crushed by rejection, but it still stings. I doubt that will EVER go away, but I can work on using the feedback more efficiently.

Nine was interesting. Bell asks you to not think, "Do I have a book inside me?" He wants you to think: "Do I have a writer inside me?"  Changes the perspective from product to craft...very helpful.  The last one, Talent, was actually least important to Bell. He said that everyone has some talent, its what you do with it that matters.  Not sure what to think about that one...but, okay.

The book has a section at the end of the chapter to write down your reactions and I had quite a lot to jot down. Bell then asks you to revisit your comments a year later to see if you've grown as an author. I really enjoyed this quick read. Its not an in-depth teaching book, but more like a pep-talk with cool military references.  I felt ready to kick some writer's block hiney, that's for sure.

Thank you again, Michelle for the book. Now until next time...Go Write!

Photograph by tanakawho.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Thinking of it in terms of a career rather than just one book definitely changes one's perspective. The book sounds helpful - I'll look for it!

Nicole Murray said...

"To enter one's own self, it is necessary to go armed to the teeth." -Paul Valery

It's what a writer 'must do' to be better than just good. Or at least in my opinion. And it is tough but doable.

And I think I may check out this book you won. Congrats!!! BTW. I hope when you check your list next year its all covered. ;-D

And I have something on my blog for you BTW.

Laura Marcella said...

I love that book! I recently wrote up my vision statement and goals he suggests at the beginning of the second part. James Scott Bell is brilliant!

Hart Johnson said...

I think this looks like a GREAT way to look at a writing career!

So my helpful advice is to look like that rhino skin like bare feet. As summer starts and they've been sheltered for months, every rock is agony, but the more you go barefoot, the tougher they get, and eventually you can run on the gravel... the secret is keeping it constant. don't take a break, or it will hurt again... maybe ease into it... barefoot in the grass at first, then smooth pavement... build to the gravel, because the agents and editors will be glass.