I think there are two types of writers:
Bangers – They put ass in chair and fingers to keyboard and bang away. They produce.
Talkers – They talk about when, where, how and why of writing. Other that talk, it’s not clear what they do.
We’ve been over this before, but writing is hard.
Dorothy Parker – known for her biting wit – was keenly aware of this.
Here is the (rhetorical) acid-test question that sent me reeling:
Do you talk about writing more than you actually write?
I had to ask myself that question recently, and though it is rhetorical, I’m sharing my answer. I found I was drifting away from the place I wanted to be: dead-center of Banger. I look up at my bulletin board by my desk to see the two words that constantly motivate me – Writers write.
I had drifted to a place where I wasn’t writing as much as I was talking. I was talking with other writers at readings and workshops, or spewing on Facebook, Twitter, this blog or other sites about writing. I came to terms with this in February, 2013, and I had to acknowledge that I had become what I abhorred – I was talking the talk but I wasn’t walking the walk. I was a poser.
How did this happen?
For me, it started with finishing the first draft of Undertaking Hartford. I love writing the first draft of a new story. This is the time of romance, where you are learning and experimenting; it is all fresh, exciting and new. Editing that story into something marginally readable is quite another matter. That’s work.
You see, I don’t like editing. I think part of it is because I’m killing my darlings, as Stephen King puts it. It’s hard to assign carefully crafted paragraphs into oblivion because they burden the story, but something else is true – I’m not a good editor of my own work. I miss my mistakes. I spend time with Elements of Style and I listen to critiques and I get better, but I’m not good at it. Even with the help of a professional editor, I’m not a good editor of my own work. I don’t like killing my darlings.
It is during the editing phase that I fall down, stumble around, wail and moan the most. I’m like a sick Sheldon Cooper. Somebody, sing Soft Kitty to me.
And editing is really hard and not-fun. Tell them, Dorothy:
I love to talk about writing – the process, business and art.
I love to talk about stories – the arc, acts, characters and plot twists.
I can go on for hours about plausibility, inter-character relationships and world-building.
That’s not going to change, but I’ve scaled back on the talk and focused more on the banging.
After all, I don’t want to be the guy who talks about banging but never bangs.