Tag Archives: thoughts

Comparison: The Writer’s Knife

26 Aug

And here we have an example of someone with a knife (and a gun, technically). You DO recognize him, right?

Just so you know, I was thisclose to naming this post “The Writer’s Villain.”

In a post about villains, I would have then blathered on about how all the best villains have something redeemable about them.  That the best villains are not what they seem to be at first glance, but are usually much worse than they seem to be.  And, though they’re definitely dastardly, there’s probably one tiny endearing thing that makes them sympathetic.  Benjamin Linus and his daddy issues.  Voldemort and his intensely human fear of death and desire for power.  The guy pictured above, who I will refrain from giving spoilers about.  Blah blah blah.  Blather, blather.

But I’m not writing about villains today.

I’m writing about comparison, and the knife seemed a more precise analogy.  Think about it: a knife can be both a source of life and death, power or pain.  It can be used to carve weapons, sharpen other knives, cut rope or string or fabric to make shelter or clothing, kill and prepare food. Just as it’s useful for killing food to eat, however, it’s able to kill a human.  It can cut, slice, puncture, and then there’s pain.  Death.

It’s all in how you hold it, and it’s all in how you use it.

Same with comparison.  I’ve been doing a lot of thinking this week about this.  Is it ever okay to compare yourself to other writers, or is that just a knife waiting to kill your work?  Or, is it a knife waiting to sharpen your work, carve it into something stronger, more powerful, better?  Or, is it neither—just a nagging weapon, a little too dangerous to touch and much better left to those who can handle it?

I think it’s all three.  Comparison can be useful to us as writers, but only if we know how to not let it kill us.

Over the next week or so, I’m going to write a miniseries about these things.  There will be three posts:

Why you should NEVER, EVER, EVER compare yourself to other writers,

Why you should TOTALLY compare yourself to other writers,

and

WHAT TO DO once you’ve not compared and compared yourself to other writers. (Turns out I may not write this one after all. The TOTALLY post covered it well enough, I think.)

No matter how hard we try to avoid it, the temptation to compare ourselves with others—both in writing and in life—isn’t going away any time soon.  We might as well learn how to wield it to our advantage.

And, PS: My qualifications for writing this look a lot like, “Girl compares herself.  Girl despairs.  Girl decides there’s value in the comparison.  Girl knows others have the tendency to compare themsleves, too, and maybe even despair—what she’s learning just might help someone else. Girl decides to throw opinions out there into Blogosphere. Girl proceeds to refer to herself as Girl, drink her coffee, and hope this miniseries sounds remotely helpful and/or interesting to someone other than merely herself.”

Sincerity, In Life and In Writing

8 Sep

Sincerity.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately.  It’s an undercurrent to my actions, a silent stream in my mind that suggests words when I have conversations.  It’s the little green leaves that grow up through cracked sidewalk cement, the stuff that reminds you that life can be cold and hard and rigid, but beauty does, indeed, exist.

It’s what makes your friends your friends, and not just projects who serve to better you in some capacity.  It’s what you are when you accept yourself, flaws and all, and remove yourself from the game of I’m perfect, a game where you are always the king nearing the wrong end of a checkmate situation, trying to wield your power, avoiding the reality of weakness, and finding yourself roaming in circles.

It’s saying what you mean, not just what you think you should say.  It’s hearing what others say, really listening.  

I’ve been thinking about this a lot in my life, lately.  I see too many people accidentally fall into the trap of acting like they think they should, rather than being the people they are.  They give answers they think people expect, get jobs they perceive others perceive as acceptable, make decisions based on general consensus rather than actual conviction.  I know this, unfortunately, from firsthand experience.  

The past few years have been some of the best of my life, because I’m finally growing into the freedom of being myself.  I’m finding this freedom is important, especially when it comes to being a writer.  People-pleasing and fitting a cookie-cutter mold is inherently opposed to life as a writer, I think.  By nature, writing is time spent on something that doesn’t (at first, if ever) yield monetary fruit.  Writing requires perspective, which requires actual thought.  Plus, you have to be at that point where you understand, ‘I have opinions.  So does everyone else.  Therefore, it stands to reason that not everybody sees how I see.’  Furthermore, you have to add to that little mantra ‘…and that’s okay.’  

It’s so much more fun to be real than it is to be fake.  More satisfying, too.  It’s not always easier, but it is less complicated.  Ironically, don’t you think it seems more people are ‘pleased’ when you live sincerely, rather than when you live as a people-pleasing?  

Stephen King writes, in On Writing:  “The key to good description begins with clear seeing and ends with clear writing…”  I think this is a good example of sincerity as it applies to writing.  You see clearly, you translate it clearly.  No muddling it up with what you think it should be, or what you think others want it to be.  Just write what it is.  And let what it is come straight from you, the sincere you.

Thanks for letting me think on this publicly with you guys.  I’d love to hear your thoughts on what it means to be sincere, whether in regards to your writing, your life, or both.