Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Writer

I found the November 2013 issue of THE WRITER in my mailbox yesterday. I cherish writing magazines and I don't get rid of them. I have subscribed to THE WRITER and WRITERS DIGEST for years. Each one has nuggets of knowledge about writing craft shared by famous writers. It's rare to have a moment alone with the likes of these authors but you get to learn from them in THE WRITER.

The first article I read was "Cave Art" by Robert G. Pushkar. This is a great article and I enjoyed reading it. It's all about the writing process of Andre Dubus III. Andre writes in a "writing cave," a tiny room like a walk-in closet that is hidden away from the rest of his house. He writes using Ticonderoga pencils in composition books. His basic framework is a beginning, middle, and end. He allows characters to develop and surprise him. He doesn't share his work with anyone. He doesn't believe in writing groups.

"Dubus never shares a work in progress with anyone: 'No one. Ever.' It's a deeply rooted superstition he has always had. 'If somebody sees it before it's done, he will see its flaws, point out what could be better, point out 'well, that's been done before by so-and-so. It's needlessly discouraging' he says. 'I'm afraid of talk about what I'm working on."

"...Dubus frowns on writers' groups, believing they lead members astray from the work at hand. His father told him that a novelist is like a whale submerged in the ocean. You're down there alone, and you're supposed to be down there alone."

Every time I share my work or try a writer's group, I find out that my writing slows to a halt. I see everyone gifted and talented around me. I start to doubt my ability to put down a word worth writing. It's hard to be a writer because you're alone. I love talking to people and being around people but writing for me needs to be a solitary activity. I enjoy helping others and offering suggestions but I don't like to slash and cut someone else's writing. I don't participate in the process of some writing groups. I will only say what is good and what I appreciate about writing. Writers are sensitive and need to be encouraged. Life is hard enough as a writer. Writers are extremely self critical. If they read this and that and continue writing, they will learn.

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