Wednesday, June 13, 2012

No Wine Before It's Time

Once again I can give you hundreds of excuses for not blogging in the past year. But that would only bore you. So, let me share about my recent attendance to the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference at Ridgecrest in the beautiful mountains of NC. The first year I attended was in 2010 and it was a wonderful experience. I attended many classes taught by talented people, enjoyed worship time with hundreds of writers, had an encouraging critique and met wonderful individuals with various backgrounds from all parts of the U.S.

And this year was even better. I got reacquainted with old friends and made many new ones. The great part about returning for the 2012 conference is I knew what to expect. It’s like going from the freshmen class to a rising junior. You don’t feel as awkward; you’re not as intimidated meeting authors that before your only connection were seeing their names on the book covers at your local Barnes and Noble. Award winning author, Susan May Warren pointed out in her keynote speech this year that if we’re not careful we’ll fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to other writers. It’s easy to do when you’re surrounded by talent. But you are reminded that everyone started somewhere and you have to work on honing your craft. The Winery Company “Paul Masson” is best remembered for its 1970s commercial with actor, director and writer, Orson Welles, who promised for Masson: "We will sell no wine before its time”.

A similar statement could be said about writers. “We will sell no novels before its time”. That is if we’re smart. Why settle for mediocre when you can have excellent. Mediocre writing will send our readers looking for titles by other authors. When readers have invested in an e-book or hard copy they expect quality writing for their time as well as their money. For some of us it may take two years or others ten years before they get a book published. The point is we have to do the homework. For me that includes a lot of writing and rewriting, reading, research, reading books on writing, listening to the advice of writers, editors, agents and publishers. Add a large dose of prayer and patience for good measure.

This year I connected with the fact that as writers we are a different breed. As an artist I always felt like I looked at things differently and as a writer our creative nature can be very imaginative. We connect with our characters, we talk to them, we love him, we change them and sometimes we kill them off. F. Scott Fitzgerald said, “Writers aren't exactly people...they're a whole lot of people trying to be one person”.

I was glad to know that other writers also struggle with finding time to write. Not that I want them to struggle you understand. It’s so easy to find other things that need to be done. So this year that will be a goal to actually schedule time to study the craft of writing and do the writing. I started my current work in progress after attending the 2010 conference. I have a tendency to think it has to be perfect before I put it down on paper and I know that I need to turn off my self-edit button and just write.

"At least one study of blocked writers has found that they were more productive and more creative when they were essentially forced to write instead of scribbling only when the mood struck them”. This statement was made by writer, Daniel Akst and needs to be my mantra. So if you’re a writer, put the pen to the paper. If not, then find a good book to read. Next time I’ll share some of my favorite Christian authors.