In case you missed it, I wrote my first and only guest post for What I Learned Today last week, On Writing and Blogging. Over the past seven months or so, I've learned much about the business of writing. Fascinating stuff.
More fascinating still is the craft of writing. I've never doubted that it is an art form, I just never understood the importance of the rules. Rules that are allowed to be broken, but only if you know what they are in the first place. Clearly, I break the rules without even knowing it. Sometimes I stumble upon writing a decent story, but I think it is exceedingly rare to find a writer with any staying power who is just winging it.
One of the cardinal rules of writing is that a writer must read. Even reading bad writing has its merits, because it reminds us of what not to do. Ah, but good writing? Good writing inspires us and nourishes our souls. It challenges us to be better writers. Or at the very least, a more appreciative audience.
If you are an aspiring writer (and seriously - who isn't these days?) I would highly recommend On Writing by Stephen King. It is the best book about the craft of writing I've ever read. (Note: It is also the only book about the craft of writing I've ever read.) This is my blog, and I want to sound as if I know what I'm talking about. Please play along.
The best part of this book? It's just plain honest. A trait I subscribe to all great writing. Here's a brief excerpt:
You can approach the act of writing with nervousness, excitement, hopefulness or even despair--the sense that you can never completely put on the page what's in your mind or heart. You can come to the act with your fist clenched and your eyes narrowed, ready to kick ass and take down names. You can come to it because you want a girl to marry you or because you want to change the world. Come to it any way but lightly. Let me say it again: you must not come lightly to the blank page.
I'm not asking you to come reverently or unquestioningly; I'm not asking you to be politically correct or cast aside your sense of humor (please God you have one). This isn't a popularity contest, it's not the moral Olympics, and it's not church. But it's writing, damn it, not washing the car or putting on eyeliner. If you can take it seriously, we can do business. If you can't or won't, it's time for you to close the book and do something else.
Wash the car, maybe.
Which only reiterates the point of my guest post for Billy Coffey. I am a blogger who writes. Some day I may venture out into deeper waters, but for now I think I'll just keep to the shallow end with only the occasional swim out to the deep. Stay tuned.