Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Writing Fiction - It's Hard

My writing group has met faithfully once or twice a month for two years, ever since we were all rejected for the same fiction writing workshop and decided instead to get together ourselves. From that rejection, we ended up with a group that long outlasted the 3-month workshop, and we were lucky enough to develop great relationships with each other.

It can be hard to find a group that’s as copacetic as ours. It can also be hard to take criticism from people you don’t even know. But it’s quite rewarding to have them all agree that a particular piece of yours is good stuff, and better than the last piece you wrote. Reading a piece by another group member that is that much better than his or her last one also brings a sense of accomplishment. I like to think we’re rooting for each other.

Since the group’s inception, some of us have applied for workshops similar to the one that first brought us together. Some have been accepted, some rejected and some have opted not to bother applying at all. Being the glutton for punishment that I am, I keep applying. I just received my third workshop rejection last week. My first reaction was that I was never going to write fiction again. I was starting to think that it would be easier to become a rock star than a novelist. Upon reflection, I gave myself some slack, remembering that only 10 out of 40 applicants were accepted, which means that 75 percent of us got the heave-ho.

I am a journalist by trade. I quickly found out that fiction writing is a completely different animal, and much harder to grasp than I first expected. While I can write a good solid news article with my eyes closed, I’ve been writing fiction consistently for two years now and still don’t feel I have the hang of it. Granted, I’ve been into journalism since grade school, which was much more than two years ago, and I have formal training in news writing. I just feel that, having the basics of writing pretty much down, that I should be able to wrap my head around fiction writing without too much difficulty. Not so.

The experts say that you should write what you know. That works, to a point, but I find myself getting too close to the characters, or becoming the characters themselves. Before I know it, the words “I” and “myself” start creeping into the piece, and I’m trying to cram exactly what I know happened into a story that doesn’t play out well on paper. So I’ve decided to try bucking the system by making up every single thing I write, fiction-wise, and hoping that maybe therein lies a better path for me.
Post a Comment