Doug Bruns

On writing

In Creativity, Reading, Writers, Writing on June 4, 2012 at 6:00 am
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Writing, old school.

There are some very popular–and quite good–blogs out there for writers. Dispensing advice to writers is one of those popular themes that help make a blog successful. I mentioned the advantage of this approach recently (see Blog as metaphore), the value of being an expert and sticking close to your expertise.

On writing specifically, I gather from the popularity of these blogs that there are a lot of aspiring writers seeking help and advice. I would probably be well served to better study some of this stuff. But, truth is, I don’t much like reading about writing. I like to read good writing, but don’t have patience to read about the craft of it. I suspect at work is the same distrust I hold toward the MFA degree. There too, I know I would benefit, but am more inclined to go it alone. That should come as no surprise.

A couple of years ago, with time on my hands, I considered taking the MFA. I went to a well-known school and attended a graduate seminar. Within minutes I knew I would not be able to sit the next two years listening to students read their works in progress. It was not a bad experience, and was likely quite beneficial for those participating. I simply would rather be home reading Nabokov or Cheever.

Reading about writing is like reading about sex rather than having sex. It’s okay, I guess, but why bother?

Yet, here I am writing about writing…

I recognize good writing when I see it. And when I see it I long to be a better writer. That is my school of writing.

A writer I greatly respect, Jim Harrison, said to a writer friend not long ago, “Just concentrate on the writing. That’s all that matters.” I admire the elegance of that advice and keep it noted on a card at my desk.

Sometimes, as happened just yesterday, I pick up a book, read a word or two, realize inspiration, put the book down and start writing. This does not happen frequently, but when its does I recognize it and take advantage of it. It’s a cosmic gift. Most of the time, however, I simply sit down and go to work.

About four or five months ago, I upped the ante here at “…house…” and started posting everyday, six days a week. It is a yeoman’s task I set for myself and we will see how it turns out. I decided that since this blog has evolved into my major writing project, I would work at it everyday hard and with discipline. That is how one approaches the important things.

Carole has noted that this discipline carries with it a weight. I occasionally exhibit evidence of this burden. Somedays I worry and fret that I won’t have anything to write about tomorrow. She admonishes me. She reminds me that I’ve grown a nice little audience of readers here at “…the house….” Further, she points out that I’m doing exactly what I want to be doing. What more could I want? I know all this to be true. Yet, still…

There is value in being worried enough that you won’t be good enough to do the job well enough. And therein lies motivation.

I believe that summarizes my thoughts on writing.

Thanks for reading. I appreciate your support.

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