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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

THE SCRATCH OF THE CLAW_INSECURE WRITERS' SUPPORT


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How do you write?

Do you write as if your novel were a pressurized airplane cabin?

Are your characters insulated from the truth of their environment?

Is your locale as flat as a cardboard movie backdrop?

Are there smells to your surroundings? Does the soft breeze make an airy stew of their aromas?

Or do you drag your poor reader down sterile, silent streets?

What are the prevailing winds of mindset, manners, and economic demands of your setting?

Does your main character sail against them? Or does he/she flounder in their wake?

Or does he, puppet-like, go through lifeless motions, tugged by your whims and not by motivations relate-able to your readers?

And what about you as a writer?

Do you persist? Or do you stall out when the words become lost in the mist.

Persistence. It is what separates those just playing from those dedicated to the dream.

When the writing is sluggish that is when it is most important to bull through to the end. Writing is like life in that.

Winners don't stop when they meet resistance. Weight resistance builds muscle. Blank-out resistance builds fine prose.

Persistence is the heart. The story is the soul.

For luck, Ernest Hemingway used to carry a rabbit's foot in his right pocket. The fur had long since been worn off. The bones and sinews were polished by wear.

The claws scratched in the lining of his pocket,

and by that sting he knew his luck was still there.

Why was that?

When you feel the scratch of life against you, you know that your luck as a writer is still at your back. How is that?

The sting of life makes you aware :

of your own humanity,

of others' failings and strengths,

of the precious fragility of life.

And that awareness gives your pen the gift of perception, depth, and heart.

What did Ernest put in his journal?

"Travel and writing broaden your ass, if not your mind, so I try to write standing up."

***
{Col. Charles T. Lanham and Ernest Hemingway in Germany 1944.
This image is a work of a U.S. Army soldier or employee, taken or made during the course of the person's official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain.}
***

19 comments:

  1. Ah that Ernest. I like a genius with a sense of humour. Just as well we have a Healthy Writers group started up in the blogosphere! Thanks Roland. I'm lauding writers groups today.

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  2. Thanks, Denise:
    The ghost of Ernest smiles your way. I am just getting in after 15 hours working straight or I would visit your blog now. Sigh. I am still on first call. I need to sell the movie rights to Victor or Samuel!! :-)

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  3. Hemingway was an inspirational artist! When a man like that speaks, you listen. And you're absolutely right about the scratch of life at your back--we all feel it in varying degrees and for varying reasons. But it can enrich instead of depressing us, if we learn how to use it.

    J.W. Alden, stopping by for the IWSG

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  4. Great questions to consider. I found myself nodding my head to the former statements (thank goodness)! Fascinating about Hemingway. I didn't know he carried a talisman around. Good idea...

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  5. J.W.:
    Hemingway always inspires me. His words. His life. He was so gifted, so spirited, yet so self-destructive it sometimes hurts to read his letters and read of the consequences of his actions.

    Katie:
    Yes, it surprised me as well when I learned about the rabbit's foot and the reasoning behind it! :-)

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  6. Great questions. Some days I feel as if I'm slogging through.

    I love the part about the 'scratch of life'. Thanks for sharing that.

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  7. I'm suddenly feel renewed and excited. I answered YES to most of them. Yay. Gads, it's taken forever though. Happy IWSG, Roland. Nice to meet you. Your blog is stunning.

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  8. Kathy:
    There are days when we all slog through our writing. We must persevere in our dreams. No sprites to write through that stall in our muse! Drat. :-)

    Joylene:
    Great to meet you, too. Thanks for the kind words about my blog. My ghost friends take all the credit for it! :-)

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  9. The sting of life reminds us we are still alive and it beats the alternative.
    Can't write standing up, but I do play my guitar standing up.

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  10. Hmmm, maybe I just need a good beating. :)
    You brought up some great points here

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  11. Loved Ernest's quote... TOO FUNNY.

    As for you sir, this was inspiring. "Persistence is the heart. The story is the soul."

    That, dear friend, says it all.

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  12. Stephanus:
    Thanks for visiting. :-)

    Suzanne:
    I try to give my friends a boost these first Wednesdays.

    Alex:
    I'd like to hear you and the band you're in play!

    Heather:
    Life gives us that beating for free! Glad you got something positive out of this.

    Michael:
    So happy to see you here. Ernest did have a wry sense of humor. All of us wince at the impact of rejections, criticisms, or just long stretches of silence from those to whom we submit our work.

    Winning is not promised to any of us, but success is that Holy Grail that lures us on. If we fall by the wayside, we will always be haunted by seven words: what if I had not given up?

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  13. Well said Roland. Impressive.
    Nancy

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  14. That quote always makes me smile. :)

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  15. I loved this post! My words aren't the most eloquent in the world but I am damn persistent, and I think that's a crucial quality in finishing a novel.

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