Bullet Wisdom

I am an Active Duty Officer in the US Army. I am a Husband, father, writer, hunter, gamer, and SOLDIER. This blog is a forum for my many hobbies as well as my random musings.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Lessons Learned

Last week, writer Julie Klumb, tagged me in her Lessons Learned post. Today, I was going to attempt a humorous spot at summarizing this week's failed attempts at writing, but since she was gracious enough to mention me, I'm going to answer the mail. So, this year I learned:

1. Writing is hard. Anyone can write. The physical act of putting pen to paper or keyboard to screen is easy. For the latter, at least for most, although I have some friends that might be more efficient with cave drawings, but that's another discussion. Point here, is that there's a myriad of factors that go into telling a successful story, not the least of which is coming up with words compelling enough to keep the reader turning the pages for the next twelve hours of their life. As with any profession, there are rules, gimmicks, tricks, tactics, and techniques. The writer has to know which is the right tool to use and when.

2. Life happens. At this point in my journey, I feel like I'm on the right direction. The goals I laid out for the year and ticking off nicely, and the rewrite of my manuscript is slowly progressing. That said, it's not progressing fast enough. My wife got a job, the kids go to school, and my job takes up about 20 more hours a week than I originally planned. The Army puts food on the table, the kids need help with homework, and I have to put more effort into taking care of the house. After all that's done, the writing gets squeezed out. For now I have to be happy with a couple hours of quality writing time a week. For now it's just the way things are.

3. Writing is a learning profession. I mentioned tools earlier. For years I was taught that passive voice was bad, evil, burn, burn. Now, I've learned that the right placement of passive voice in the right situation make the difference between 'I took the one less travelled by' and 'I chose the less travelled road.' Point is, you have to research the craft. It's that simple. Great writers are experts on grammar. I want to be a great writer, ergo I have a lot to learn.

4. Find and befriend other writers. This goes back to number three. And don't be above or below anyone. Help other writers when they ask, and don't be afraid to ask for help yourself. Usually, you don't know what you don't know until someone points it out.

5. Keep a sense of humor. Rejections hurt, critiques can be painful. You won't make the progress you wanted. You'll have doubt. It's a profession where success is often not attained for years. At some point you'll have to reevaluate to determine if it's worth continuing. Because of that you have to laugh. One way or the other, the ride is going to eventually end. You have to keep your spirits up.

That's it. I tried to stay general as much as possible. In the great Army tradition of Blue-Falconing' our buddies, I'm going to reach out and tag fellow OWG member Danielle LaPaglia.

You're it. No pressure.


Danielle La Paglia said...

I'm it! :)

Well, considering we joined the OWG around the same time, I feel like our journeys are parallel right now. We each inch forward at different times, but keep the other in sight. It's been a hell of a year and I'm amazed at how far we've both come. Now it's a race to the end or our rewrites, at snail's pace of course. :)

Ken said...

Snail's pace is right. I'm aiming for a January completion to take to the Fort Worth Writer's Conference to pitch. That means I have lots of time and a clouple holiday periods to get it right.

Pat Hollett said...

I enjoy reading your blog. I always see a little humour in it even when you're being serious. Maybe that's just the way you appear to me. That said, you've accomplished quite a lot in the past year, and it's always a learning experience. You have much on your plate and juggle it very well. Way to go! :)
By the way...thanks for YOUR help, when I needed it. ;)

Falcata Times said...

Another entertaining post, frank, honest and above all else funny. Good to see that you're still pushing yourself and hope that this next year is better for you than the last.

DanielleLaPaglia said...

My goal is to finish by November so I can participate in NaNoWriMo. No completed ms = no NaNo for Danni. We'll see if that happens or not.

Seleste deLaney/Julie Particka said...

Great post as always (sorry I wasn't around last week to comment). I keep getting things pointing me toward DFWcon, but sadly I don't think I can swing it this time, especially not with RT a month later. :( Best of luck finishing the re-write and getting it out there :)