Monday, June 09, 2008

Ramping Up

My writing instructor and friend, David Daniel, has just published his latest novel, Reunion, which is available at bookstores and online. I encourage you to pick up a copy and give him a read. He is a brilliant writer, with such a knack for turning a phrase. As a young man he published somewhere in the magnitude of eighty short stories, though that number could be much greater. It's funny, but as a wannabe writer it would make sense if I were a better observer, so that factoids like the one I just "quoted" could be a bit more reliable. Let's just say for argument's sake that Dave has written a shitload of short stories. The man is a machine. His prose at times has a poetic lilt. He's given me permission to take an expression of his and mold it into my own, but to me it just feels so, well, not right. He insists that as long as you don't copy another's works, if you pull it with your own strings, it transforms into something uniquely you. "Call it inspiration," he said with a paternal smile. "Art imitates art, and we are all inspired by others. Nobody writes in a vacuum, and all authors were and are all readers first."

At his Reunion launch party, I met some of his closest friends, guys he met in the service back in the days of Viet Nam. By the way, David is a conscientious objector, and did not suffer the horrors of that blight of a war. In fact, the theme of his latest novel is about the loss of innocence, in those far away high school days before the world would change forever. But as I was saying, many of his friends are poets and writers at various levels of success. Most have books you can pick up at the local Barnes and Noble. One in particular is a columnist, whose columns my wife has read in our local town paper.

The question was always posed to me that night: "Are you writing?" No, I would reply, I'm taking a break. "Why?" I lost my confidence and my way. I told them how my self-doubt had stopped me cold, how what others thought of my writing became more important to me than my own opinion. One man in particular really let me have it. "What the fuck are you doing writing for the sake of other people? Huh?" His face was in mine now, his anger genuine. "Why do you write stories? What made you want to put something down on paper?" Because, I said, I have something to say. I might not know what it is, but when I'm writing it, and I'm in that zone, there is no better feeling in the world. Like free-falling. "Then sit your ass down and write, and don't give a shit who's going to read it. Do it for yourself." He accented his last syllable with a thumping finger poke to my chest.

I bought him a beer, which tamed the savage beast.

It helps to be surrounded by people with like interests, because they just understand.

And they know just what to say to get you through.

Oh, and if you do pick up a copy of Renunion, take a look at the acknowledgements section. You might see a name you recognize.


Ben O. said...

Great post - who we write for is sometimes the hardest question to answer. Blogging doesn't help the situation either. I thought blogging was going to enhance my writing and such, but it just takes more time and focuses upon others reading and commenting on what you said.

Oh well, it's fun.

Ben O.

Toni Anderson said...

That is very cool :)

Scott--Meretta replied to your comment on my post and recommended Stephen King's book 'On Writing' as great inspiration. I haven't read it yet, but it is on my list... :)

Dixiebelle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dixie Belle said...

Scott, do what that guy said. He's right. You can't focus on what other people think or say about what you write or you'll never write. I got good news today. Sold a story. Details on my blog.

Alan said...

I recall saying something of that exact same nature. I guess I lacked a good poke in your chest. I will, however, take the satisfaction of saying "I Told You So." ;-p

Now sit your ass in that chair and WRITE.

!!!!!! poke !!!!!!