Sunday, August 22, 2004

Cheryl, a bit overwhelmed


My friend Cheryl Wyatt (Squirl) posted a gentle reminder in ACRW to all the published and experienced authors. There had been a heated debate over head-hopping, Author Intrusion, and POV shifts, and how they relate to NY Times Bestselling authors versus first-time authors, etc. Cheryl had been feeling a bit overwhelmed and discouraged because people can get pretty opinionated. She didn't know about head-hopping and Author Intrusion before the posts, so to hear some people stress how WRONG it was made her feel insecure about being new to the technical aspects of writing. Cheryl was extremely gracious and humble, explaining her feelings very well and letting people understand the point of view of someone feeling run over by the opinionated posts. Yet she didn't condemn anyone or make anyone feel guilty for having a strong viewpoint.

Gail Sattler responded with an equally gracious post about discouragement. It takes time for anyone to learn all the "rules" and various technical aspects of writing. No one is an expert just from taking one class, reading one article, studying one book. It takes practice, repeated readings and constant study for these things to sink in. Like Brandilyn Collin's analogy of driving a stick-shift car. At first, each motion has to be remembered, but after countless hours of driving, they become second nature.

So hopefully with this in mind, the writer can stave off discouragement. A Freshman cannot be a Senior in one week. A writer should expect it to take time and effort to reach a certain level of proficiency, but she should also remember that with hard work, she WILL get there.

My reaction to these posts was understanding of Cheryl's insecurities, and also conviction to make use of what I've learned to help others write their best. I've spent time reading and studying the craft of writing, but I should be looking for opportunities to encourage other writers, to utilize of my hours of studying to help someone else along.

It also reminded me that a writer should constantly be soaking up knowledge like a sponge. Brandilyn mentioned in her Mt. Hermon class that a good writer is always seeking to get better, to become a better writer, no matter how many books she's published or sold. The current status of her writing ability should never be enough. I need to keep working at my writing, keeping up with the current trends of what editors expect to see from new authors. If omniscient POV is no longer desirable, I should be aware of it and change to single-character POV. If dialogue tags are being ruthlessly cut, I should know this and insert action beats instead.

Of course, all this study doesn't guarantee publication or moderate writing success—that's in God's hands. But I'll have known I did my absolute best, no excuses, no regrets. I am hoping that this love of the art and this desire to serve God in this way is His hand stirring my heart, and that He will choose to one day allow me to be published and be used for the praise of His glory.

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