Community Service

September 6th, 2004 · 6 Comments
by Booksquare

We’re not going to suggest that our friend Susan G is an angry woman; she just takes craft very seriously. Since the day we met her — we were staring at a cup of coffee that appeared to fading into the mist, she had the energy of one who’d been up for three days straight — she has been an advocate for the downtrodden, the poor, the preyed upon.

Yes, writers.

If you were to listen to Susan, you would hear variations on a theme: you must work hard. There are no shortcuts. It takes time. Don’t eat that entire bag of potato chips. She is not opposed to writing software, per se. She is opposed to the suggestion that all that is standing between you (and you know who you are) and true success is a miracle. And you can buy that miracle today if you have your credit card handy.

Writing software, really just the charts and graphs and such done on paper in days gone by, is a tool. You can plot, you can conflict, you can resolve until your fingers cannot move, but when the foundation is laid, you still must build the book. And until they can figure out a way to do a brain dump straight to the hard drive, no technology in the world can help you.

File Under: Tools and Craft

6 responses so far ↓

  • David Thayer // Sep 6, 2004 at 10:33 am

    I clicked on the new novelist website and now realize what I’ve been doing wrong all these years. You have to lie on the floor and smile. Who knew?

  • booksquare // Sep 6, 2004 at 11:52 am

    Yes, the floor part is very important — it’s one of the things they gloss over in writing classes. I think the smiling is optional — I’d check a reference books, but they’re in the garage, and I’m lazy.

    I’d probably try the floor thing with and without a smile — see what works best for you! Now that you have the key to success, there are no more excuses.

  • Brenda // Sep 6, 2004 at 5:19 pm

    Okay, this is going to sound snotty, but I’ve had a rough day and I’m feeling entitled. With one published novel under my belt and one, as yet uncontracted, on my editor’s desk, I just have to say that in my experience, the people who tend to require a lot of hand-holding are not the ones who get published. If a writer doesn’t have the guts and the drive to FIGURE THINGS OUT ON HER OWN (no, my Caps Lock isn’t stuck; I’m shouting) I submit that she probably doesn’t have what it takes to become a published novelist. Paint-by-numbers software won’t make anyone a writer. Writers make themselves.

  • booksquare // Sep 6, 2004 at 6:05 pm

    I figure the types who aren’t willing to put in the time are also the types who figure they can dash off a novel over a weekend. I actually possess, and sort of use, writing software. Currently, I’m working on something with multiple plot lines, and having a graphic visualization of the various threads helps me see how the whole thing comes together…but I do not mistake pretty pictures for actual writing.

    There will, alas, always be someone out there hawking the latest cure-all. Until you actually sit down to construct a scene (or destroy and rebuild, if you’re like me), you cannot appreciate the work that goes into writing. At least with brain surgery, there’s a map of sorts; with novels, even the best laid plans aren’t enough.

  • Susan Gable // Sep 7, 2004 at 4:51 am

    Angry?? Moi? No, I am a happy person. (Although I don’t usually lie on the floor and smile while writing. Sometimes I lie on the floor, but usually my arm is draped over my face and I’m trying to visualize something. Sometimes anything. G Sometimes what I visualize is hurling my computer out the office window. )

    Yes, I do have a stronge sense of right and wrong, and deep desire for justice. (Any wonder I write books with happy endings? G ) Yes, this software is just the latest way to “get rich quick” off that novel you know you have in you!

    I think that’s what bothered me more than the software. Hey, if something works for individual writer, then more power to them! Use whatever works for YOU. But the ad I got in my in-box for this software implied that by using this software YOU (Or I suppose, I) could be the next JK Rowlings. (Ah, would that the mega-success came just like that. But JK earned her success. And this ad makes it seem as though everyone who hammers out a book will have that same result. Ummm…doesn’t happen that way, sorry.)

    And stop hogging those potato chips!

    Susan G.

  • Kate Rothwell // Sep 7, 2004 at 7:52 am

    Grrrr. What they said. Grrrr.

    And how can a dedicated writer have such a clean house? Maid service must be the answer.