Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Inherent BS #1: Writers Part 1: "It's Easy!"

So, after what I think was a successful stint of regular posting, I came to realize I should have always fallen back on my strengths. You see, I have long been and always will be a master of BS. Not just laying it out, but also identifying it. That's practically what I did before with the New Sci-fi posts. It's a useful skill to have, being able to tell people something completely fabricated with such conviction that they'll believe it while still being able to tell when someone else is doing the exact same thing. I could have been a politician were I to have had sufficient brain damage. But for now I'm simply a guy with intact gray matter and enough time on my hands to point out other BS.

Ironically, after that statement, an idea I got from someone else.

I was asked to submit a bio of myself to the anthology I got into. Keep it under 100 words and tell us about yourself. Wow, they managed to find my kryptonite so effectively. I'll admit, I've been putting it off because I really don't know what to say about myself in short form since, as far as I'm concerned, there's nothing interesting about me. Really, all I've got is:

"I'm a writer!"

But just that in itself got me thinking about the inherent BS involved in just about everyone who calls themselves or considers themselves a writer. In one way or another, we all have a touch of BS in our lives. In fact, for the unsuccessful or rookie writers, there's three clean cut categories of our BS. Let's take a look at these, shall we?

"Anyone can do this."

Not long ago I was watching a report on a cable news program about the "99ers", the people who couldn't draw on unemployment anymore because they've been unemployed for longer than 99 weeks. And during this report they interviewed someone who was a 99er himself. There wasn't anything particularly wrong with the guy, in fact he seemed pretty decent, but when they introduced him there was a posting of a little bio for him on the side of the screen to explain who he was. Under "current employment" it listed "freelance writer".

"WTF," I said to my imaginary friends in the television, "nothing in your work history suggests you'd have anything to write about!"

That's how it tends to happen too. When the recession first kicked in I saw a lot of little studies and reports on the sudden upswing in people trying to get their writing published. That's right, once people lost their regular jobs, everyone decided they needed to start writing. After all, Stephanie Meyer made millions and millions of dollars and everyone reads Harry Potter even if they have no kids are are in their 50s. Writing is a gold mine! And hey, everyone knows how to write, right?

Surprisingly, no. Most people I've seen who've jumped on the "writing is easy" bandwagon have been borderline illiterate. But even if you were to scrub out the idiots you still have a surprising number of people out there who think that it's an easy way out. When I first started calling myself a writer (mind you, before I actually knew what the hell I was really doing, so, I suck too), I was the only one I knew who was "a writer". Now, some years later, I'm one of six I know that has jumped onto the writing bandwagon and at least one of them has stated quite openly "if people I know can do it, so can I!"

Why is it so damn common? Because everyone in the world thinks that writing in a language they know to construct a story people would like is as simple as knowing what you like and being "original". In a society where everyone is given the impression that they're special and unique, everyone thinks their voice is perfectly suited to the world of professional writing. So hey, everyone claims to be one when they've got nothing else to fall back on. After all, we're all beautiful snowflakes.

Except, you know, you're not...

However, I understand the need to do something, anything to try to make your existence count again when purpose has been taken away. I just don't think anyone should approach a new direction in their lives with the assumption that anyone can do it. Maybe it isn't the right direction for you. After all, what if I approached your regular job and said that I could do it as well as you could, maybe even better, despite having absolutely no experience at it?

There was a study some time ago that said anyone who is truly great at what they do can claim to have had at least 10,000 hours worth of practice at their skill. If you've had 2 hours, you're not ready yet. And then people wonder why the statistics for the number of people to try to be a writer but fail is so damn high. It's not because it's a tougher than normal industry. It's because so many people believe it's easy! (See what I did there?)

If you really want to be a writer, there's no substitution for study, practice and perseverance. And if you put in those things and you really stick with it, you wont need to claim the title anymore. On the other hand, if you're not able to do that and you were hoping that writing was the Mickey Mouse coursework of life, well...there's other options out there.

It's probably better to study.

And I took my lumps and put in my effort. These are the results I got.

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