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Building a Writer


Bricks (Photo credit: robynejay)

I have a dear and close friend I’ve named Novella.  She’s like that.  A lesson and a full blown story packed in a punch. I’ve been out of town the past few days supporting her in the biggest contest of her career.  Though hopes and expectations were high and everything looked favorable for her, she unexpectedly fell short.

What followed was a step into devastation. And guilt. A feeling like I’ve been here before. Not exactly, last year was a little different; the scale was smaller and it ended far better, though not as well as it could have. On both occasions I was the go-to gal, the pep talker, the one who’s supposed to have the words.

The words didn’t work.

I actually practice my game time speeches- plan them out and look for just the right combination of mnemonics, inspiration, and easy confidence. Usually it all turns out well. Novella is a killer at these things. Just not this time, when it mattered most.

What do you do when your words aren’t enough? I’ve another friend, (we’ll call her Sara) who’s barely recovered from losing someone just six months ago and now has been struck again with more of the same. What words can I offer her?

There is power in our words, more than most people realize. There is also power in their absence. Or in their lack. In their weakness they can defeat. When they’re not enough. When what’s unsaid says everything. When they fail both the receiver and the giver. For what makes a writer, if not the gift of her words?

I have struggled with words a lot lately. Disappointed myself. Doubted my abilities. Failed a friend. Perhaps we’ve both been due for a lesson in humility. Maybe we need to go back to the ground floor and find out what we’ve built our confidences on, and whether we’ve made houses of bricks or straw. And rebuild accordingly.

Then again, maybe it’s not what we build, but that we build. Brick by brick, though they may not line up straight or look the way we hoped they would, if you stack them they make a wall, then a room, then a home. Word by word, if you speak them, write them, wrap them up the best way you know how, they make an attempt, a sentiment, a reach from one to another. A gift. The eloquence isn’t the point, just the trimming. That’s why we refer to a person’s body of work as his “writing“- it’s the doing that defines us. It’s the act of trying, even it falls flat and the roof caves in on you, to say something to someone that means something.

So keep building, and rebuilding, and when words fail you don’t be discouraged. They are ever at your mercy, and you can write them off if and when you please. Just be sure you don’t stop reaching for the one person to whom your words will mean something- if not everything. That’s power, my friends. So write on!!

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9 thoughts on “Building a Writer

  1. I have a similar friend called Novel. She’s been worked and reworked a zillion times. I’m sick to death of her, but oddly enough, after all this work, I think she’s in better shape than she was when I first fell for her. I guess that’s how it happens. Love you blog, by the way. Following.

    • Thank you so very much for taking a chance on a new blogger, Cathy! I’m happy that you and Novel have come through the infatuation phase and the love affair is still going strong. Don’t give up on her. Perhaps we’ll all get the privilege of meeting her one day:) All the best!

  2. I dig this. It’s deep. What were you writing about — your novella, I mean?

    • Thanks! Definitely an art gallery post, and yet, here we are… good of you to rescue my comments section anyway…

      Novella dances around a lot- she may just morph into plain old Novel. Succinctly put, Novel will tell the story of a male nurse and how he navigates the complicated relationship he develops with the wife of a patient in his care (in the midst of several other feminine influences in his life). And if anybody steals this AMAZING idea before it’s fully realized it’s on like donkey kong. [Just had to get that out there- so I can say “I told you so” to somebody (no, not you) if I ever need to.]

  3. I didn’t really wanna know. I was just fucking with you. No, I’m just kidding, I was fucking with you again…

    …How far along are you? Do you have a first draft completed? How many words?

    I’m considering starting, myself — I’ve been considering it for a looong time. I think I’m ripe and ready, finally.

    • Considering is always a waste of time. If it occurred to you, you want to do it. So do. At least that’s how I’ve started handling such questions in my own life.

      How far….really, really unfar. I have the rough outline, have finished about seven chapters, 13K+ words. I really enjoy writing a guy. No bullshit. Well, actually…

      Thanks for the interest, though. Ready to tell the world what yours will be about? (Don’t be a ____! {Chicken- chicken is what fills that blank.})

  4. You can delete my potty mouth words. I won’t be offended.

    I’ve made the mistake in the past of writing without a clear idea. It’s fruitless. It works in blog format, but not in 50,000 word *format*. I probably have 2000+ pages of all kinds of stuff. Scripts, Short Stories, Poetry…It’s just not all about the same thing — too bad!

    I think I have an idea though, and it’ll be in the same voice I write with on my blog. I’m geeked!

    And you’re welcome…

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