Imagination doesn't just mean making things up. It means thinking things through, solving [problems] or hoping to do so, and being just distant enough to be able to laugh at things that are normally painful. [Some people] would call this escapism, but they would be be entirely wrong. I would call fantasy the most serious, and the most useful branch of writing there is.
--Diana Wynne Jones

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Audacious

I've been thinking about what it takes to be a writer.


*Patience, everyone says. It's true the publishing world is a slow place.

*Persistence, yes, because good writers don't ever just dash off a novel in a couple of weeks if they care about their creation. And because the publishing world is a slow place.

*Perfectionism, too, because you have to want to get it right badly enough to keep working long past the point when a normal person would send the #$!%&*! book through the shredder--or it won't be any good. And maybe it won't be any good anyway.

La dee da. Whatever.

Mostly, I realized this week, being a writer takes audacity. It takes mental swaggering. To think your writing is good enough to deserve to be in print on the national market. To take a place in book store shelves next to writers like Natalie Babbit, Sid Fleischman, Karen Cushman, Lloyd Alexander.

Really? You think so?

Maybe it's true. Maybe it absolutely isn't.

But to write all day long every day, to rework a thousand times and then again, to submit and keep submitting to people who know fine literature and work on Diana Wynne Jones's books and Neil Gaiman's? Seems more than arrogant, if you ask me.

Audacious even to hope.

It's what I'm doing. My own audacity astounds me. Somebody needs to slap some sense into me. Into all of us presumptuous enough to call ourselves writers.

Except we'd be too crazy to listen. It's a writerly thing.

Pure audacity.

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