Kristan Hoffman - Writing Dreams Into Reality
Thu Mar 8 2012

Writerly Wurdsday

Wednesday. Thursday. I’m somewhere in between.

“Five Questions About Writing” by Stephen A. Watkins

3. What are your writings to you?
My writings are more than words on a page. They’re more than stories I tell to entertain myself and others. My writings are my still-beating heart. They are the blood in my veins. They are the breath in my lungs, flowing in and flowing out. They are the fire in my mind, the electricity of neurons and synapses connecting and evolving. They are strands of my DNA unzipping and recombining, new ideas born and new life formed.

When I look in a mirror I see my reflection, the outward image of who I am to the world. When I look at my stories, I see my true reflection – the reflection of who I am from the inside out, made bare to the world. My stories are me at my most vulnerable, and me at my strongest.

The words. Right out. Of my soul.

I do not believe there is a magic bullet, any single quality which, if present, enables one person to write and if absent prevents another from writing. Anyone can write a story, when it comes right down to it.  Doing so successfully could come down to any number of factors: perseverance, love of writing, talent, skill, desperation, desire, inspiration, hard work, and on and on.  I try to cultivate as many of these qualities in myself as I can.

“A Powerful Sort of Doubt” by Eugene Cross

… when we as writers doubt our own work, it’s because we realize that it is not yet where we want it to be. And so we keep trying, keep at it, over and over and over again. We collect our rejection slips. We revise the same sentence dozens of times. We read our work aloud and torture our thesauruses and slam our heads against the wall, until we get it right. Because we know we can. Because we know it can be better.

“25 Things I Want to Say to So-Called ‘Aspiring’ Writers” by Chuck Wendig

(Note: He does a lot of these lists, but I almost always find something fresh and valuable in them.)

Nobody respects writers, yet everybody wants to be one (probably because everybody wants to be one). Point is, you want to be a writer? Good for you. So does that guy. And that girl. And him. And her. And that old dude. And that young broad. And your neighbor. And your mailman. And that chihuahua. And that copy machine. Ahead of you is an ocean of wannabe ink-slaves and word-earners. I don’t say this to daunt you. Or to be dismissive. But you have to differentiate yourself and the way you do that is by doing rather than be pretending. You will climb higher than them on a ladder built from your wordsmithy.

Or as I often tell myself, “Less think, more do.”

I used to imagine pictures in my head and I’d try to paint them in watercolor and they’d end up looking like someone barfed up watery yogurt onto the canvas. I’d rail against this: WHY DON’T THEY LOOK BEAUTIFUL? Uhh, because you don’t know how to actually paint, dumb-fuck. You cannot exert your talent unless you first have the skill to bolster that talent.

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6 Comments
  1. Stephen A. Watkins says:
    Thu Mar 8 2012 at 9:58 AM

    I’m glad my thoughts have resonated with you. I think this is how a lot of us writers feel about our work.

  2. Elissa J. Hoole says:
    Thu Mar 8 2012 at 10:40 AM

    I love it that you gather these gems for me to ponder. Thanks! :)

  3. Sonje says:
    Thu Mar 8 2012 at 12:17 PM

    I’m going to the Van Gogh exhibit here in Philly next week, so I’ve been reviewing my books about him and his work. The book that I’ve been looking at for the last couple of days is solely about his drawings. Your last quote reminded me of something he wrote in a letter to his brother, Theo: “What is drawing? How does one learn it? It is working through an invisible iron wall that seems to stand between what one *feels* and what one *can do.* How is one to get through that wall–since pounding at it is of no use? In my opinion one has to undermine that wall, filing through it steadily and patiently.”

  4. Kristan says:
    Mon Mar 12 2012 at 9:13 AM

    Sonje-
    I love that quote, thank you. :) I’m sure artists of all kind feel similarly about their craft. I just finished reading a book that’s sort of about Hemingway (The Paris Wife, which I’m sure I’ll do a Reading Reflections post on later) and it brought a lot of these ideas to mind.

  5. Julia says:
    Sun Mar 18 2012 at 8:50 PM

    According to Malcolm Gladwell in “Outliers”, it takes roughly 10,000 hours of practice to become skilled at something. It’s good to know where the goal post is.

    I too thank you Kristan, for all of the thought provoking posts and quotes. You are my study break from the often pedestrian world of criminal appeals.

  6. Kristan says:
    Mon Mar 19 2012 at 8:25 AM

    I tried calculating my hours (roughly) once. I don’t think I have much further to go…

    Glad to offer a respite!

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