It’s been about fifteen months since I started this blog, and for seven of those months, I posted here weekly. My stated reason for creating this site was to “track my journey from lay-writer to published author,” but I also started the blog to advance that journey: I accepted as gospel the ubiquitous claim that if you want to become a published author, you need a “media platform.”
Well a funny thing happened on the way to the media platform: at some point in the past year, I became painfully aware of how little I know about writing. As I read more stories and read them more deeply, took classes, and struggled to get the perfect ideas in my head onto the page, I realized that at this point, there is little I can tell anyone about writing.
Don’t get me wrong: I’ve learned a tremendous amount in the past year.
I’ve learned about the literary journal submission world: how to identify journals that might be good a fit for my work and then narrow in on the journals that are run with transparency and accountability; how to submit my work and wait (sort of) patiently to hear “no”; how to tell the difference between the variety of rejections I receive (uninterested, vaguely interested, actually encouraging); and, happily, how absolutely amazing it feels to finally hear “yes.”
I’ve learned more about writing classes and workshops: that, for me, virtual classes are a poor substitute for in-person classes; that skilled, generous teachers (like skilled, generous people in general) are rare; and that gifted writers and amazing writing-buddies can be gleaned from either type of class and are absolutely worth hanging on to.
Finally – and this brings me to the issue of humility – in writing, submitting, receiving feedback, and taking classes and workshops, I’ve learned what a tremendous amount I have to learn about writing. Plotting, character development, creating telling details, rhythm and pacing, use of time, point of view, narrative voice: these are just a few of the many aspects of writing I’ve become aware of needing to master. Or if not master – because does anyone ever really master them? – then improve. And since that is my goal, I know that my time will be better spent working hard at writing than it will be spent building a media platform.
Truthfully, this state of humility feels like the first real step I’ve taken toward becoming a writer: you can’t learn until you’re open to all that there is to learn. I don’t know how long my retreat from the blogosphere will last, but I’m looking forward to pulling in and working hard on learning to write. Over time, I might actually gain enough skill to have something to share with others. Until then…