Thursday, June 5, 2008

On Writing

Writing is hard.

(You can quote me on that.)

You'd think someone could have clued me in to that before I, you know, tried to, like, do it.

Oh, I'm not talking the physical act of putting pen to paper. I got that part down years ago. (I might even still remember how.)

And I'm not even talking about the commitment of energy and time--sometimes years--that go into crafting a story. If writing is a passion, these costs are negligible. (At least until the divorce papers are signed.)

No, the most difficult thing about writing is...dealing with other writers.

Now, don't get me wrong. I love writers. Heck, I can't seem to open my front door without tripping over some far better than I. (Or is it 'better than me'? I always get those confused.)

The writers I'm referring to are the ones who frequent critique boards and writers' forums and rant about words like "it".

"It" is passive.

"It" is non-specific.

"It" makes me want to gouge my eyes out with a rusty spork and pour salt in the festering wounds.


Yowza. Is "it" really so bad?

"It" seems to me like "it" has a fairly useful place in literary lexicon. After all, Dickens didn't say "12:45 was the best of times, 12:45 was the worst of times..."

Alas, new writers are often inundated with these types of opinions, and though many are helpful in terms of tightening prose (I'm lookin' at you, "that"!), there seems to be a widespread movement of word genocide taking place.

"And" is evil.

"There" is the devil.

"Was" is obscenely pornographic.


What's next? "The" boils rabbits alive?

I guess my point is, it's not those words alone that make a story unreadable. The world's worst writer can remove every evil, passive, non-specific, bunny-boiling word from their work, and it still wouldn't be worth the paper it's printed on. Conversely, a great one can write in nothing but adverbs, and still be praised for their genius.

At least, that's what I'm hoping. I really truly am.

15 comments:

Flip Flop Momma said...

Holy Crap u get a BIG amen from me.

Bee Repartee said...

And there it was, my link in amazing company on a blog whose author is, in my estimation, one of the most clever and talented writers to hit the 'sphere.

Have it on record, I second Flip Flop Momma's holy crapping.

holly said...

well i HAVE to make it a hat trick of holy crapping!!! (that is the best kind)

holy crap!!

"this" steals candy from little children and eats it <-the candy.

right. i'm leaving this obscenely pornographic blog. my company has a no-porn policy. that probaby means i should close down my "sex-gods of the south welsh coast" window.

Natalie said...

I am not a writer, but somehow I know EXACTLY what you are talking about.

I see those types in the comments section of other blogs and it drives me batty.

Groovy Mom said...

I think you're right. It's been a long time since I participated in writers' forums. I'd forgotten how vehement they can get. I developed a hypersensitivity to adverbs after reading Stephen King's book, On Writing. I enjoyed that book.

That was a very poorly written paragraph of mine, by the way. Writing makes one insecure. It sucks.

Dapoppins said...

If that Gena Showalter can do it...so can YOU!

Immoral Matriarch said...

I think you're right. Even the most gramatically perfect writing can be pure crap.

Jana Lubina said...

I agree. The new and/or less than confident writer can really take such "advice" to heart too literally and feel even more frustrated then before.

Jo Beaufoix said...

Avery you are so right. And when we get published our editors can sort all that stuff out. That's my theory. :D

M@ said...

I fear the passive and tend to write in the aggressive tense. I see what you mean, I say.

DysFUNctional Mom said...

Geez, the pressure!
I like the new layout.

Dapoppins said...

RED? I have dibs on RED...all layouts that are red and scrolly and classic belong to me! MEEEEE

Avery Gray said...

Flip Flop--how's it hangin', momma? Good to see you!

Bee--you are too kind! No, seriously. You need to work on that. ;o)

Holly--think you could send me the link? ;o)

Natalie--I don't get too many of those here. Just smart ass friends who like to bust my proverbial balls.

Groovy--he said, "The road to hell is paved with adverbs." I love that quote!

Dapo--a-frickin'-men!

Maria--you said it!

Jana--true! If I'd been the sensitive kind, I don't think I would have continued writing much after my first round of crits. And they weren't even as brutal as an editor would have been.

Jo--that's why they make the big bucks! ;o)

M@--I see that about you. You're good at aggressive (even if there's no such thing as "aggressive tense").

Dysfunctional--thanks! Bee made me. ;o)

Dapo--quityerbitchin'!

meleah rebeccah said...

Excellent post. Writing is HARD!

This statement: "It" makes me want to gouge my eyes out with a rusty spork and pour salt in the festering wounds. "

Made me laugh out loud.

Nan said...

Hee hee! You are a genius. I missed you! My own fault... I've been doing other stuff. Silly me. Niiiice new look, and happy belated! And hello? After 30 is THE BEST.