I remember when I presented my first children’s story to the leader of a workshop. I could see from the pained expression on her face that just reading it gave her a stomachache. She carefully chose her words. As she began the critique my heart dropped to my toes to realize that my stuff was…okay…it was terrible.
From those beginning sour days of learning the craft, I slogged my way through complete ineptness to a spot where my output was passable. After another long spate of writing courses, workshops and consistent feedback from fellow writers, I’d say that I’m a whole lot better. Now I hear, once in awhile, that I have “it.” Whatever that is.
I write every day. I read every day. Most days I conduct research for my historical stories. I muse over the stories when I’m walking or driving. It’s a wonder I don’t have a wreck! I even write in my dreams, waking up to make a note on the pad by my bed. (Of course in the morning, what I wrote is senseless.)
What I have learned to do is to follow Jack London. I’m going after it with a club, pouring over what I wrote yesterday, asking every word to do its job.
I’m sure that Mark Twain is sitting on a cloud, peering at my work over the top of his glasses with the admonition, “The difference, Mary, between the right word and almost right word is the difference between lightning and lightning-bug.”
I know, I know. I’m working on it.