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Rhetoretician -- Fiction etc.

There are no cooincidences

There are no cooincidences

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Two weeks ago I was at the library and I saw a book by Ann Patchett, Truth and Beauty.  I'd never read anything of hers, but I had heard of Bel Canto, and I'd also heard an interview with her on NPR in which she talked about her writing process and the way Elizabeth McCracken, who looks at the first drafts of all her books, is so instrumental in her writing process.  She sounded really good.  So, thinking it was a novel of hers, I picked up Truth and Beauty.

It turned out to be a memior of her great friendship with the late Lucy Grealy.  It is sad and happy and inspiring and upsetting all at the same time.  Patchett's writing is clear and powerful, and gives the illusion of being effortless.  I'm definitely going to read her novels.

But beyond this -- because the story covers the period of her friendship with Lucy, it also covers the period during which the two of them were trying to become writers, trying to go from people who wrote to people who could support themselves by their writing.  I got to read about their disappointments and setbacks, and their ultimate successes.  Here I am, trying to work my way into something like a writer, and I stumble upon this story.  There are no cooincidences.

(Not that I'm kidding myself there's too much similarity between our situations -- she sold a story to The Paris Review at 21, for crying out loud.  Still, somehow it's reassuring to read about the struggles of even the very good, the very successful writers...)
  • *goosebumps* No, there are no coicidences. But, please, stop comparing yourself to writers who get their first work published at 21. You're not her, you're uniquely you. I'll drag 'there's no coincidences' a bit further: There's no coincidence that you've lived the life you have, because in doing so, you've become uniquely enabled to write the stories only you can write. If you had becoma a published writer at 21, you would never have gained the kind of experience that you have - and you would never have been able to write those same stories. I don't doubt that you would've been good, but what if the writer part of you wasn't mature enough to manage before? Now you are. You're ready to bring your writing to the world, and you'll recieve the help you need as you go along.

    I have wanted to reply to your previous posts, too, but I have not been in control of my faculties... My brain has just started working again after being knocked out for over a month, and commenting on your posts means extensive thought (which I've been uttelry unable to do). Hope I'll get to it within the next days - but right now there's a party going on, and Mary's given me wings. *grins*
    • Hi, Berte! I'm sorry to hear about the month of non-functionality, and delighted to learn that you're back to yourself. Welcome home.

      Thanks for those words of encouragement. I don't really compare myself with Pratchett; but that comparison is inevitable if I'm analogizing her struggles to my struggles and thinking "See, it's not so bad, even Ann Patchett had to struggle."

      Happy birthday, by the way. I don't think I'm going to be participating in that shopping spree, but I hope it's a blast.
      • Positive comparison is not a bad thing, it's always good to see that others struggle, too. Makes those incredibly clever people more human.

        No shopping so far, but Mary has given me wings (as she said that I'm an angel), so I'm flying around. Who knows, maybe I'll pop up in a professor's home, these wings are rather magical, after all. *grin* And it's tremendous fun. Who needs shopping, when there's flying to be done?

        And thank you for the birthday wishes. It's already great fun, even though the day itself hasn't arrived yet.

        Edited at 2008-01-26 05:13 pm (UTC)
  • Thanks for sharing the various things you're reading about the process of "becoming" a writer. Your entry on the 20th included the quote "Your first million words are for practice." I really appreciated reading that. I've just begun to write seriously (at nearly age 50), so most of it has been just for my personal entertainment. I may never show it to anyone, but now I don't feel quite so foolish about it.

    I just finished reading Stephen King's book "On Writing." He, too, talks about his early struggles and keeping his rejection notices on a spike over his desk. Of course he was twelve, I think, when he started submitting stories to magazines, but it was the point that he kept at it and didn't take no for an answer.

    I've read a few of your fics. Keep at it. You're going to make it one day.
    • Thanks for that response, Augusta. I appreciate it. I've had a lot of support from my friends (especially my LJ friends) in this process; I wish you the same. King's book was recommended to me also; should I read it?

      I'm grateful that you've read some of my fan fics. If you're interested I could add you to my "original fiction" list too. I keep that one locked because I don't want to "publish" my original stuff and I ask people to keep it to themselves.

      Thanks again,

      • Hi Ken,

        Yes, I would recommend the Stephen King book. He's written it in three parts. The first part covers his early years, how he got into writing in the first place and the path he took to get to writing novels. The second includes his thoughts about the tools a writer needs. The third is his insight on writing and the publishing business. He also included a "postscript" about how he got back on track after being hit by a van while walking down the road in 1999. I found the whole thing to be quite interesting, especially since I've never read any of his other works. I'm considering it, though I can't stand the horror genre.

        I would love to be included on your original fic list and be able to follow your progress in becoming a professional writer -- I expect I'll learn a lot from it.

        Thanks and good luck.
  • I think looking at some author's success is, well going to pound you in the head. Some talented (and not so talented) writers become the publishing world darlings. In this case, a clever idea in Bel Canto. I wonder how original it was anyway. Was this written after a group of terrorist take over an embassy party in order to kidnap the Japanese president of a latin American country? I wonder if it was more for the plot then how it was written? I didn't like it. I did read and like her other book, Run (I think a far better book and not exactly well known).

    What is good, is reading how other artist's struggle to get published.
    • Hi Rachel. Well, I'll read Run, then, won't I?

      I am not looking at another author's success (he said for the third time). I'm simply reminding myself that a comparison of my struggles with Patchett's struggles may not be a realistic comparison -- but, as I say, I do draw comfort from the fact that she had such struggles.
      • Oh thats right....the thing is you have to suffer for your art. Thats the way its supposed to be. On the other hand, some teenager submits a manuscript and boom...they become a household name. In that case it was Ruth Rendell who wrote a novel during Math class and submitted it after graduation...and was sold.

        I'm convinced luck has something to do with, but in the end if you really want something and have the talent...you will get it.

        There is a wonderful novel called "About the Author" by Cal Cunningham It's about a clerk in a book store that is desperate to write a novel. But as soon as he sits down to write it, he can't. His roomate is an arragant young man that heppens to have immense talent it writing. He bangs out a novel and is killed in an accident. You can guess the rest. The poor clerk is stuck with a brillian book and a plan he fantasizes about. The plot itself is very funny and sad and really dwells into the sometimes seedy would of publishing. The point is, that while all of this going on, the clerk does write a novel, even more billiant.
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