Friday, December 14, 2012

Being a Writer

Being a writer means universes clash on our Christmas
tree every year. 

A little while back I told you that I self-identified with being a writer. Part of that revelation has come from writing every week (mostly) for the Confabulator Cafe. I'm over there again this week writing a bit about gifts for writers. It's not as entertaining as Chuck Wendig's article earlier this week, but maybe it'll help you decide what to get for the writer in your life.

All this introduction to say that I'm really enjoying being a writer. I finished another draft of the novel and I'm writing a short story (which I really have to get back to after I write this) and I'm reading a couple of things for other writers. 

I enjoy the critique process. That's probably masochistic, but I want to know what's wrong with my stories so that I can make them better. When I critique what I look at is possibilities. Is this going to happen? What if it does? 

The difference in choices is what makes writers different. Recently a conversation brought up Stephen King's Desperation and Richard Bachman's The Regulators. (You of course know that King and Bachman are the same guy.) The basis of each story was the same but it certainly highlighted the different voices and the different choices writers can make if given the same topic to write on. That's further reinforced by how each of us at the Cafe approach our flash fictions (and next week we return to Straeon Manor!) and how each of us look at the topic of gifting. 

In the case of the books I mentioned, it's the difference between horror and terror. No one can write horror quite like King. And no one can writer terror like King does when he's using Bachman's voice. (For the record I much preferred The Regulators to Desperation. The Regulators terrified me. It was brilliant.) This is also what makes King such a fantastic writer that he can write with two distinct voices. Yes there are quite a few similarities and it's obvious now that they're the same person but if you didn't know you might just say they shared sensibilities.

So when I'm critiquing a work for a friend, I'm looking at those sensibilities and trying to figure out why those choices were made, how I might have made them differently. That's how I'm learning to be a writer. By the same token getting critiques back always shows me the same thing in reverse. 

The possibilities are intoxicating and enlightening. Sometimes I'll think what would this person do in this case? and then I explore that option. Sometimes I use what I come up with and sometimes I don't. Sometimes I'll like the outcome of that thinking but go back and wonder how I get to the same conclusion along a different road. 

Like I said, being a writer is pretty cool. Reading something by a friend or someone as well-known as King teaches me something I didn't know before. Do you know a writer and need a gift for them? Books. Always books. 


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