Writers and Writing: Why We Suck So Much
Had my landlord not flooded my bathroom in a stunning display of either plumbing prowess or outright buffoonery, this post may have ended up on my own blog. This article landed here because of the book the spate of indoors rain destroyed – Anne Lamott’s “Bird By Bird.” This work is instantly my most reliable resource for writing. I panicked, wheezed, pretended everything was okay, pleaded, passed out, revived myself, soldiered on – all on the inside of course. I attempted to dry its water-soaked pages in my oven (good plan? I thought so). As I did so, my mind went over all the useful chapters I’d leaned on throughout my writing life. One chapter jostled to the front of the line:
Shitty First Drafts.
As a writer, you have to accept that you’re never going to get it right the first time. Failure is an important part of the game, as is the ton of crap lines you have to write just to get through to the good stuff. In her book, Lamott calls the image of a great writer sitting down at her desk and penning a bestseller on the first try a “fantasy of the uninitiated.” Writers are like baseball hitters: we fail much more than we succeed and the homeruns likely lead to million dollar contracts. Seldom have I ever known what I’m doing as a writer until I’ve finished the work. Despite all my best efforts, I may lay multiple bad eggs before one turns out to be golden. That’s the process, love it or leave it.
When I was writing Welcome to Demos, and its sequel, Demos City Blues, multiple characters ended up differently on the second and third draft. I even wrote an entire different version of the first book with an entirely different storyline! Sometimes, you just have to take the shiny little nuggets of goodness from that first draft, and scrap the rest. As you build the narrative, the shiny bits become larger, and the story becomes leaner on fat. Anne Lamott taught me there are no mistakes in writing, only drafts. She also taught me a few other things:
· Quiet those voices in your head – they’ll only censor you and prevent the work from taking shape. Even if it takes all day, and a few drinks, calm thyself.
· Don’t panic! You never have to get it right on the first try. Write whatever comes to mind.
· Keep writing no matter what – don’t allow the voices in your head to convince you to stop. The unusable text has to come first before you can harvest all that sweet plot arc goodness.
· You are not perfect, and neither is your writing.
That’s it! Simple right?
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Demos City Blues
Book Two Demos City Series
Book Two Demos City Series
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Number of pages: 232 (approx)
Word Count: 83,735
Cover Artist: Nicholas Kay
Purchase Links: Amazon
War is coming to Demos City -- in more ways than one. Leon Gray struggles to balance a new job with helping his daughter Shauna navigate the landmine life of a full werewolf. Further complicating matters, a new Alpha has arrived in Demos, laying claim to the territory as her own -- including Leon. Meanwhile, the political information David Hastings unearthed may reveal a much darker truth than anyone expected. Demos City's corruption has deep roots, older than the bones of the town itself.
Can Gray and Hastings keep the city from tearing itself apart long enough to discover the source? Can it wait until Leon sees Shauna's high school play? As the first snow falls, the flakes may only have bloody footprints to greet them on the earth below.
About the Author
Jonathan Lister lives in the Philadelphia area and is a full-time writer. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Shippensburg University and a Master of Fine Arts in Writing & Poetics from Naropa University. His work has appeared in outlets of USA Today, The Houston Chronicle, Matter, Square One and Image Magazine among others. He wrote his first two books in 2009 from midnight til 4 a.m. while waiting tables during the daylight hours. DEMOS CITY BLUES is his second urban fantasy novel. Jonathan drinks too much coffee and appreciates your time.
Book facebook: Welcome to Demos
Good reads: Author Page
Author Blog: Demos City