Writing the Australian Crawl: Views on the Writer’s Vocation by William Stafford. I had to read this when I was getting my MFA. It’s an old book, but it’s really good, and I’ve gone back to it several times as I struggle through writing. I’ll share several of the things I’ve underlined and you’ll see why:
“I must be willing to fail. If I am to keep on writing, I cannot bother to insist on high standards. I must get into action and not let anything stop me, or even slow me much.”
I am learning that it’s SO important to write every day. Even if you’re writing crap. Even if your trudging through a first draft. Even if you’re writing words that will never get published. It’s a practice, a discipline.
“Writing in itself is one of the great, free human activities . . . for the person who follows with trust and forgiveness what occurs to him, the world remains always ready and deep, an inexhaustible environment, with the combined vividness of an actuality and flexibility of a dream. Working back and forth between experience and though, writers have more than space and time can offer. They have the whole unexplored realm of human vision.”
How beautiful is that? It gives me hope, even though I am one small voice among millions of writers out there, that I still may find some unexplored territory that people want to read about.
“Intention endangers creation . . . I want to raise the question of whether creation isn’t something other than putting together materials into the service of a preselected goal . . . . I think it takes a certain amount of irresponsibility, to create.”
This is really deep – talk about a philosophical debate topic! I’m on the fence as to whether I agree with Stafford or not. But I know that it’s good advice for me, because I’m controlling and practical and somewhat intentional and I want A + B + C to = D. But I am finding that if I let it, creation will do surprising and wonderful things.
For example, I’m writing a manuscript that might maybe someday hopefully will be a YA fiction book about a Thai/American girl who’s lived her entire 15 years in Washington, D.C., and then she and her family move back to Thailand. I already had ideas about the plot and characters, but then one day, this new character just appeared. I had never really understood what authors meant when they said things like that because like I said I’ve always been pretty controlling about my own stories – and I haven’t written a lot of fiction anyway. But she appeared. And she’s bringing a bit of conflict to my story. Which is what you want, right? I still haven’t learned all her secrets or how she’ll be an agent for change in the story, but she came, and she’s there, and my creation is starting to go beyond my intentions, and it’s good.
Okay, I’ve gone on long enough with this one!
If you are a writer, do you have a favorite craft book? Or, if you have another hobby, do you have a craft book about that that you enjoy?
Go here to read Karla’s choice.