The Writing Colonic
I heard a description a while back (and I of course cannot remember who tossed this little tidbit to the winds of my imagination) that writers have an amount of shit writing inside of them, and that the only way to get to the good stuff is to pass all of the shit. The way to do that is to basically give yourself a writing colonic.
Before you convulse like this baby at the word “colonic,” allow me to esplainy. First, I’m not sure if I necessarily agree with the idea that I have a predetermined amount of shite in my writing digestive tract that has to come out before I write anything worth reading. However, I think this mystery poo-metaphor person does have a point.
Very few people (if any at all) pen their first ever novel and have it become their opus, their master work, the salient, salable, and dare we say profitable breakthrough into publishing. This isn’t to say that first novels can’t be successful — just that often it’s the books that come after them that end up being better quality.
Writing is an art, yes, but it’s also a learned skill. And the way to learn it, gentle viewers, is only to do it. A lot. In that sense, I agree with poo-metaphor dude. (I shall henceforth refer to him as “Poom.”) A lot of the writing we do to develop our craft is shite. Or it falls into the category of “I like it, but please gawd don’t ever let anyone else see it…ever ever ever ever ever.”
I am certain that if I were to ever stumble upon the 30-40 pages of handwritten sci-fi that emerged from my 9-year-old writing tract, I would laugh until I cried and then laugh some more. I also have gone back and read my fantasy novel I wrote in high school, thinking how cute it was that everything was so tidy and clean for the first hundred pages, and only seeing glimmers of what I now do often — play gross out because fighting vampires is gonna be a bloody mess (unless you’re Buffy — Joss’s zing-poof vamps were no muss, no fuss).
To sum that up, I definitely had some crap in me that needed to be flushed out. There’s probably still some in there. The point is, gentle viewers, that practice may not make perfect, but it will at least make it so what comes out of you isn’t shite most of the time.
I don’t think there is any predestination involved with how much practice it takes to write something really good. I also think writers flock to poo metaphors almost as much as Poom (Writer’s block? Might as well say you’re verbally constipated). I think NaNo helps for this sort of thing though. Even if your NaNo novel ends up in That Drawer, it still forced you to push out a novel, which is good practice. It also gave you a deadline. Also good practice.
So while I don’t 100% agree with Poom, I do agree that in order for us to write the best that we can, we need to write a lot. Get to it, everybody. 🙂
PS: I have been getting a few comments about my “gentle viewers” reference. It is a throwback to (what else?) one of my favorite Buffy episodes of season 7, in which Andrew Wells entertains the world with some true hilarity and word confusion, such as the following.
Amanda: Um, Faith killed a volcanologist.
Andrew: Silly, silly Amanda. Why would she kill someone who studies Vulcans?
I leave you with this, gentle viewers. Enjoy!