Sunday, November 20, 2005

published and unpublished writers

I don't make a big distinction between published and unpublished writers. Yes, once you're published you are dealing with different issues, but we are all writers and we all love books and stories. Years ago, I was asked to judge a creative writing contest at a small college in Monmouth, Illinois. At that point in my career, I was feeling kind of bored and ambivalent and stale. I agreed to judge not knowing what to expect.

Almost every entry was unique and wonderful. Almost every entry blew me away. One student, who was studying to be a doctor, wrote poems that were amazing and skewed and hilarious. Like nothing I'd ever seen before or have seen since. His last name was Frietag. I remember that. I sometimes wonder if he went on to become a doctor or writer or both. Or a doctor who writes crazyass poems. Anyway, the entries inspired and humbled me. They reset my brain. They stripped away the crap that comes with being a published writer, the crap that can make you forget what this is really about. So I love unpublished writers. Because they have the energy and excitement I've lost. They are excited about the idea, not the royalty statement. They are focused on the story, not the business. Yes, I might know more about structure and pacing, but I sometimes need somebody to put me back in touch with my own imagination and creativity.

now here's a comic that has very little to do with the above post. i just liked it.


Kelly Parra said...

That's really great you feel that way about unpublished writers. I also love to see other people jazzed and excited about writing and books. Sometimes I feel so alone when it comes to books in general. Hardly anyone in my family likes to "talk" about books.

Like when I read a good book, I get wowed by it, but no one I know personally understands how a good book can get your pulse up or your fear going for a character, or even make you laugh or cry.

So basically I keep to myself and my blog (he-he) how I would love to write stories that do exactly that to people who read them.

And yada, yada, yada...I just rambled on there! ;)

anne frasier said...

kelly, my husband didn't read fiction, and neither did anyone in his family, so i kinda know what you're talking about. they didn't believe you should waste time reading something that wasn't real. my daughter always loved books, but my son didn't become a big reader until he was out of high school. now that both my kids are grown, it's really nice to be able to share books and talk about books.

Anonymous said...

I also hope the student studying to be a doctor stuck with it. It took 8 years or so for a certain student studying to be a lawyer to realize he needed to start writing again. Then it took another five to make up the ground he lost.

Now he's looking forward, and the enthusiasm is growing.

Jeff said...

This is a good reminder of what writing is or should be about-- telling a story, and doing it with creative energy and determination that is unencumbered with worries about editors, publishing, profit margins, and meeting deadlines.

Thanks, Anne :)

Mary Louisa said...

I'll add my thanks for your nice words, Anne. I'm published in the academic realm (and LOL at the C&H comic), but my fiction hasn't yet seen the light of day. Still feel very new at that genre, even though I've been playing with it since I was a child.

Rob Gregory Browne said...

The beauty of entering this new world of publishing is that I've been able to meet people, both published and unpublished, who share my love for writing and reading.

In my day to day life I know very few people who do.

anne frasier said...

mary l, i thought you might get a kick out of that. :D

emeraldcite said...

My wife and I get a real kick out of Dick and Jane, especially when you take it out of context. Use your imagination on that one.

We all read in my family. My wife is a manager at a book store so we get lotsa discounts.

And my daughter, [brushes off shoulder], is six but reads on a ninth grade level.

Yeah, I'm proud :) Of course, we're surrounded by books. Hundreds and hundreds... woo hoo!