Sunday, September 26, 2010

what does it take?

When I retired and decided to “begin again” as a wannabe writer, I had no clue what I was getting myself into. Had I known how hard this would be and how long it would take…and had I known that my retirement fund was about to go up in sparks…I might have had second thoughts. But then I wouldn’t be where I am today. Six trusted friends have read my manuscript and provided me with feedback. Of course, they had explicit instructions to be ruthless about it—honest and harsh about it (even though we love one another). So, I am in the process of what I hope to be my final revision. The next obstacle will be to attract the curiosity…and support…of an agent.

When I began writing, I wasn’t sure I had it in me to write a novel. I didn’t know then, nor do I know yet, if I have any talent for this kind of thing…any skill, any hope of success (defined: being published), the necessary dedication to it, the passion for it. But I have learned that there are certain not so subtle signs that writing is my passion. Whether I am good at it has yet to be determined.

In my experience, these are the top ten signs that you may have what it takes to be a writer:
--At any one time, you carry at least five pens with you (six to ten is even better). Go ahead. Check your purse or briefcase now.
--You have enough pens with you but sometimes you forget to carry paper. Therefore, sizable chunks of your manuscript are recorded on napkins, on the back of receipts, on cancelled envelopes…and when that fails—the back of your hand.
--You have perfected the ability to record plot points, dialog, and gorgeous prose whenever and wherever the muse is kind enough to share them with you…and you can do it without taking your eyes off the road.
--Soduko makes you cringe.
--You are reluctant but willing to concede that your laptop/word processor is a convenience, but you will defend the merits of pen and paper to the end. Remember the likes of Shakespeare, Dostoyevsky, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John?
--When you’re writing, you sometimes make yourself cry.
--Sometimes, you make yourself laugh.
--When you read over what you’ve written some time later on …it happens again.
--You have made peace with the “delete” key.
--“I wasted the whole day,” is not part of your vocabulary.
--You make excuses (Oh, all right—you lie) so that you can stay home alone.

Oops—that was eleven sure signs…and omg, there must be hundreds more!

The point is that unless you begin, you will never know what you can accomplish. You will never test your passion, exercise your creativity, improve your skills, or realize your dreams. You will never know if you have what it takes. And you will always wonder about it.

Do you think you have what it takes?

“Inside you there’s an artist you don’t know about….
Say yes quickly, if you know,
if you’ve known it from before the beginning of the universe.”
In my next post, I’ll share a few things I have learned from other writers and how right they were.

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