Saturday, April 18, 2009

Questioning your writing talent

Every so often I spend some time visiting websites of my writing colleagues and I sometimes regret doing so. Not because they are bad sites, but because I am sometimes overwhelmed with feelings of inadequacy when I read their carefully chosen words that seem to fall so easily from their tongues. So many of them have such a beautiful turn of phrase or descriptive word choice that just makes you feel that whatever talent you may have falls short of being good.

We all go through moments of self doubt and as a writer I think it would be very difficult not to acknowledge that fact. Over the years I've accepted the style of writing I have will never be the kind that many of my friends have, indeed I wouldn't want it to be because then it wouldn't be my own. But every now and then you wish you could summon the great literature muse to just take over and push you a little harder. But I have accepted the type of writer that I am. I am mainly a conversational type of writer. I'm not big on descriptive prose, I love dialogue and action and I'm perfectly happy with the choices I've made. I've stopped pretending to be any other voice but my own and believe me that took me a long time to come to terms with.

I think that one of the reasons I am questioning what I do is that I have fallen into the non-fiction trap. I became a non-fiction writer composing press releases, pitches, writing articles for magazines and interviewing local celebrities, and I am in the middle of revisions on a great creative non-fiction book. Now don't get me wrong, I like this kind of writing, but lately I've been writing too much of it. I spend eight hours a day at my job writing non-fiction and then I go home and write more articles for organizations that depend on my skills to benefit their causes.

The problem is that I am at heart a fiction writer. My first published short story was fiction- set in prehistoric times, and my second a story was based on my great-grandfather who had a penchant for blowing up things. I believe that my strongest writing skills come out when I craft a short story, although I really love the idea of a novel of fiction. Indeed, I have participated in the 3 Day Novel Writing Competition four times producing 3 novels of fiction, and one that was purely non-fiction- a cathartic story about the passing of my father. That one stays in a drawer and won't be revisited for obvious reasons.

I recently started going through my other works of fiction (primarily as a way to avoid making revisions on my latest non-fiction book), and I felt inspired again. It was a wonderful feeling to know that perhaps soon I could return to that imaginary world that I love. There is nothing like bringing to life your own characters, and watching where it takes you.

I haven't felt that feeling lately- you know the one- where you become part of your work, time means nothing and the sense of elation and accomplishment makes you smile, in a really long time. And that says to me that it's time to make some decisions. What is going to be best for me and my writing career has to take front and centre...and the pull of fiction is getting stronger with each passing day.

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