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05 March 2010

Write What YOU Care About

"Write what you care about."

I read those words this morning in an email from the Highlight's for Children workshop email I get periodically. Author Jerry Spinelli said it doesn't matter what you write, if you care about what you're writing, it will do more than any query or any synopsis could ever do. "Bleed your words onto the page" he said. Hmmm, I've heard that one before...

What do we care about? Our families, our friends, our beliefs, our convictions. How do we put those into story? How do we take our deepest, most elemental level and cram it into 300+ pages that will grab a reader, wring them out dry and fill them full of whatever it is they need, crave, desire?

That's for the writer to decide. That's for the word weaver to determine. A pattern, a quilt, an intricate ivy that follows, not the bricks and mortar, but the delicate iron work it was planted around. The bricks and mortar. The book. The structure. The Elements of Style, the Shoots and the Leaves, the Woe is I. The iron work is the filigree, the waltz between craft. A reader doesn't know they care about syntax. But they do care about the dance. They care about the music.

What do you care about? Do you care about your work in progress? Did you at one time? If you don't any more, why not? Starred at it too long? Trying to write for a more popular genre than what you enjoy? Hmmm...a quandary indeed.

I find I don't care about my trilogy. I don't. Honest to goodness don't. I try to edit it and I cringe, shrug my shoulders, hurry through. Why, I ask. I was so passionate about it for so long and then...kaput. Nothing. Did I look at it too long? Did I pick it apart too much? Perhaps. But - and here's what troubles me - I'm not happy with it. It's a deep unsettling. Something is not right with it. What? I don't know. But I don't believe it.

How can you care about something if you don't believe it?

So, I ask you again, ask myself again, "What do you CARE about?"

If you once cared about your wip, why no longer? If you're writing and feel aimless, why? Take some time this weekend, just a little will do, and remember why you wrote that story to begin with. Chances are, it wasn't to be the next J.K. Rowling. It was to speak and be heard. Remember the message. Care again. And believe.

Cheers!
Jen

15 comments:

Karen Walker said...

This is a very powerful post, Jen. I hope you spend some time reflecting on the deep unsettling you feel about the WIP, which doesn't mean you don't care about it. It means you didn't quite say what you wanted to say or perhaps didn't say it in the way you wanted to say it. Don't give up on it.
I needed to hear what you said here today because I tend to want to give up way too easily. Thank you.
Karen

Jody Hedlund said...

Inspiring, Jen!! Thank you! We do need to remember the passion that drives our writing and then pull from it!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Beautiful and inspiring - as always. I deeply care about my WIP, maybe too much. I know kids will love it - I work with them everyday. I know what they read. But how do I convince the right people of that?

We are all in that darkness with you at one time or another. It is part of the writer's journey. Hang in there.

Annette said...

You always seem to know what I need to hear when I need to hear it. =)

Thank you!

Brian Miller said...

great post...and so true...if your heart is not in it, your heart wont be in it...

Elana Johnson said...

What great advice! I think there's a fine line between what we care about and becoming soap-box-y. But it's definitely sound advice.

Mary Aalgaard said...

"Care again and believe" You're talking to me, girlfriend. I have lost the rhythm of my story. Yet, it calls to me in the middle of piano lessons. It speaks in whispers when I'm at the Y lifting weights. It walks around with me and rides in my car. It begs for my energy. I will do as you suggested.
Thanks! I hope you find a new passion for your story. Maybe there is a shift that needs to happen?

ali said...

Jen, this was a wonderful post, thank you. I've felt the way you are now, like the book I'd slaved over and dreamed over wasn't worth any more of my time. The love for it DOES come back. But for me, it was definitely time away that I needed. Time to write something else.

I care about hope. And truth. I want to write those things.

faerwillow said...

~thank you so for sharing this with us...your words spoke of truth and thoughts for us to divulge within and seek what lies within...

"Bleed your words onto the page"

i will be saving this quote...to reflect upon throughout the days when i am feeling less than inspired to write...wishing you the same this weekend...time to reflect and finding truth....brightest blessings~

Mary Aalgaard said...

Jen, I've been thinking about this post today, and not working on my novel, and wondering "What's up?" So, I went out for lunch with my artist friend and we talked. It might not be my thing, or at least not right now. What I really want to do is write plays. Maybe my novel could be a play, or maybe I just need to start something new. I feel energy with the new idea (that's actually been in my head a long time waiting to get attention). With that, I'll say, I'm starting something new. It feels so much better. Hope you find the story that calls you!

Elspeth Antonelli said...

Wise, wise words, Jen. Sometimes I think it's a case of familiarity breeding contempt. I try and remember why I wanted to write the blasted thing in the first place. It usually helps.

Rachel M. said...

Hello!
Just wanted to stop on by from the blog parade and hope you are having a great week so far. God bless!
Love and blessings,
Rachel M. from Hopejourney

maggie's garden said...

You've said this beautifully. Thanks for the wonderful advice and inspiration from your heart.
xo

Sandi Delia said...

Fabulous post, Jen. A much needed reminder to get to the heart of the matter - and stay there. I can't tell you how many times I start a blog entry only to abandon it later. Why? Because there is no heart in the writing.

Crystal Cook said...

I just found your blog through Ali's. What a beautiful and inspiring post. Thanks for the reminder, I needed it :)