Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Crooked Path of Progress

I read something in one of my books today while I was editing that made me stop and think for a minute.  Not because it was some profound thought (I can't honestly see those in my work, if they're even there or not) but because it made me think about how it relates to a writer.

In my book I mentioned a colouring book that a child had been given a couple of years before (she likes to colour, and they travel quite a bit.  It's become something of a cherished possession.)  In the beginning of the book there were random lines strewn about the page as the child thought that she was colouring.  Soon enough she was colouring in the lines, maybe getting outside once in a while, but staying pretty close, until eventually she was getting good enough that she was starting to add just the beginnings of shading to each picture, crudely drawn in with her cheap wax crayons.

So, just like everything else in the world (or so it seems some days) I started thinking about how that might relate to a writer and what they go through as they try to get published.

Each of us starts out with a pen and paper (or computer and keyboard) and a blank page.  And when we start writing we all think that we're amazing.  That this is the best book anyone in the world has ever written.

Soon enough we see that those words that we thought were so great were really nothing more than scribbles on the page.  (I'm not saying we suck, we're just unpracticed and don't really know what we're doing)

We try again, maybe focusing more on one area or another.  Something that we've noticed we lack in the clutter of colourful lines that don't quite fit together.  Or may something that a friend as discerned, but we plunge forward, always ready to make that mark on the page that proves that we are determined to be writers.  This time we more in the lines, but the colours are all wrong.

Every time we try again, we get a little bit better, until suddenly the colours are right, and suddenly we're seeing that shading coming in.  Rather than stumbling over dialogue that makes us cringe, it flows through, and all of a sudden we're seeing foreshadowing that we didn't even know was going to be there.  And where did that subplot come from?  Wait, who are these characters, and why do they seem so real?

Slowly, oh so slowly, we learn to do the very thing that we love doing.  No longer is it nothing more than a collection of lines that amount to nothing more than a piles of colours that create utter confusion.  Now we have a beautiful masterpiece.  Something that we can proudly show the world and shout 'I did that!'

I don't know if I'm making masterpieces yet, but I certainly hope that one day I will.  That soon I will be able to point out my work and proudly explain all the shadowing, all the intricate little details that I put in there that made this more than just a coloured in picture, but rather a Mona Lisa worthy of display.

Now I must be off to do some painting -- err...writing.  Can't wait to see your masterpieces!

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