Updated: Mar 11
So much success in life is down to the degree and quality of emotion you bring to a task or project, and how you harness that emotion. No less for writing than for any other aspect of life that might be considered. Think Djokovic and his 8 wins at the Australian Open. Think Cathy Freeman and the Sydney Olympics.
In writing for publication, for others to read your work, you need to be committed, otherwise why bother? But the commitment can't be based on blind faith and passion alone, since all those punctuation points and the clarity of syntax are matters where discipline must be adhered to in order to convey as closely as possible the idea or feeling that you're trying to convey to a reader through words. And words will never achieve the absolute feeling or scene itself, since these belong to different realms.
Writer and editor, Jacqueline Kent writes in her memoir, Beyond Words, of the notable author Kenneth Cook shrugging as he tapped out his manuscript of Killer Koalas, as if to say 'nothing much really'. She went on to note, 'If working as an editor had taught me anything, it was that no writer on planet Earth believes that his or her work is nothing much really.' (UQP 2019, p 31)
Writers who come along to SSOA's meet ups are all of a kind, the same kind I've been teaching or guiding in community classes for over twenty years. They have an itch, an urge to write about an experience either as fiction or as memoir, a twist of reality or a recollection from their own lives. One day they think they've hit the spot, the next they under-rate their writing significantly. So they spend their days either up or down - depending on their level of expertise and extent of previous publication, as well as the degree and nature of their artistic talent. They can move from thinking their work is brilliant and everyone will want to steal it, or it's abysmal and, 'Who would want to read it anyway?' This is no exaggeration of the highs and lows, and perfectly understandable.
That's why the camaraderie of a supportive writing group - where other writers are gentle in their critiques and keen to encourage the best of the writing presented - is a sensible way for an emerging writer to proceed. That's also why Sydney School of Arts & Humanities (SSOA) offers group meet ups with very low-cost fees to new writers, through support from the City of Sydney. And then SSOA may also go on to publish those writers.
So here are some samples of what writers are feeling, whether experienced or 'emerging':
What Do You Think Of Your Own Writing?
Practice makes ...
There are a lot of things people can be good at. But anyone – apart from a savant, I guess – who is good at anything, is good at it because they did a lot of it. If you do a lot of anything you should become good at doing it, as you persevere.
Write a lot and your writing will improve. Chain yourself to the desk and write anything, rather than nothing. And stay there moving your fingers along the keyboard, and keep on doing that, rather than what a sensible person might do, like go for a walk on a sunny day. And when you are finished, re-write what you have written until it makes sense.
They might say an Indian summer might stretch into winter but it’s all the same to me, chained to the desk, considering plausibility. It’s not my strong point, but it’s remarkable what one can achieve through perseverance.
On the subject of writing and weather ...
How I feel about my own writing partly depends on the weather. Why the weather? Why not the weather? What I think of my own writing can be as variable and unpredictable as a summer’s day in England. On one day I might write a gem which could present as a complete piece or simply a phrase or sentence which hits the mark. I re-read it and am impressed with myself. The next day, I could produce pages and pages, which I immediately consign to the delete button.
More significantly, it’s not what I think of my own writing which has much purchase. It’s inevitably all about what others think. Interestingly enough, the two perspectives do not always have congruence. There have been numerous examples of when I have second thoughts about something I’ve written, only to be surprised at the positive reactions of others. Of course, this works in reverse and there have been self-proclaimed masterpieces which others have not thought worthy of the ink the printer has wasted on them.
So, it’s a moving target. I guess I’m waiting for that magic moment when the stars align and when something which I consider has merit is viewed in the same light by others. I just hope that this happens in this lifetime.