Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Am I the Literary Ed Wood? [Bloghop]

This is my entry for the Insecure Writer's Group...

I once saw Tim Burton's Ed Wood. He was portrayed as a filmmaker with deep passion for movies and his craft. He idolized Orson Wells, and was determined to follow in his footsteps and create the next great movie. There was only one problem. He was no good at it. He was a terrible writer and director whose most famous movie is Plan 9 From Outer Space, considered one of the worst movies ever made.
Ed Wood, hard at work
Throughout Ed Wood, he brushed off his horrible decisions and mistakes, focused on the goal of "making a movie." When someone tried to point out that one of the actors just bumped into something during a scene, Wood just said, "People don't care about that. All they care about is the big picture." Of course, he was wrong. I just wanted someone to walk up to him, tap him on the shoulder, and say, "Dude, let it go."

That's what I think about sometimes when I'm struggling with a story. What if you really aren't a good writer? How would you know? How many short stories and novels do you write before you decide you can't do it? At what point do you let it go? Writing advice is filled with platitudes about determination, persistence, keep on trying, keep on writing. But what if you're Ed Wood? What if, at the end of the day, you're really as bad a writer as you think you are?

What do you think? Do you ever feel like giving up? Have you ever read something in a published book or online that made you think the writer should've given up? Let me know in the comments. And be sure to check out the other members of the Insecure Writers Group! 

21 comments:

  1. Hello again, Nigel!

    I wanted to join your blog, but I can't find your button. :(

    Okay, about Ed, well, this post made me sad because I've never thought of this. Now, I wonder, lol. This is a puzzling thought, but at the same time, I think all writers have the ability to be great. If we're willing to listen, learn, and be humble, I believe we all have what it takes to write amazing stories. It's when we think we have nothing more to learn that we become Ed. Thanks for this great post! It got my cogs turning. :)

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  2. Thanks, Celeste. You're right about the joining link. It's a new blog, don't have it all set up yet. I'll add it when I get home. Thanks for commenting

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  3. Oh, I feel like giving up a lot, but then I remember how sad I am when I'm not writing. I think our biggest issue is unrealistic expectations and comparing ourselves to others. We just need to write the best we can and let go of the results. Easier said than done, huh?
    Karen

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    1. That's how you know you're a real writer, when the stories you haven't written make you sad. I think that's what drives a true writer

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  4. As with anything in life practice does make perfect. HOWEVER, I look at it this way. IF you LOVE to write you are a writer. EASY... Talent is another issue. It's just like with the piano. ANYONE can play the piano, but are they concert worthy. I would say 95 percent aren't, it does take TALENT. But if you love to play, you are a piano player. There are many people who are in the arts and are NOT BRILLIANT and don't become famous or rich, but if you truly enjoy your craft. DO IT. Technically you can be a terrific writer, but it's the PASSION that needs to be felt in that technically writing.

    It's all luck and timing too. THere are many variables, but if you love it NEVER give it up!

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    1. I agree, technical skill can go a long way. We all don't have to be Orson Welles, just not Ed Wood

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  5. We all want to be recognized for the special genius we think we possess but at the end of the day you have to ask yourself why you write; for validation or because you simply must write?

    Yes, Ed Wood was a terrible director, but I maintain that he is more famous than many good directors of his era. We don't always have to be the best. Matter of fact we CAN'T all be the best. Did he slink home because he wasn't number one? No! Ed Wood was a man who followed his heart and his spirit no matter who tried to tell him he shouldn't. He loved making movies and the world is a better and more interesting place because he did.

    Doing something with great love and minimal talent is still better than doing nothing at all. There is no value in having handfuls of nothing to offer the world.

    I don't know you but I'm sure you are a fine writer. You are articulate and thoughtful. You are concerned about quality and those who concern themselves with having it usually do. But there will always be someone out there who says you aren't a good writer. There will always be a critic ready to tear your beloved work to shreds. They will try to feed your every insecurity.

    Be like Ed Wood and don't let your insecurities drown out the love of what you do. What matters is putting your heart and soul into it. Well written, poorly written, it just matters to get it out there. How the world recieves it is seperate from it's value because it's value is determined by you.

    Now of course, it might matter a bit if your goal is to make money but only a bit. Many great writers never made a cent. Many terrible writers are now millionairs. But I'm not talking about anything as coarse as dollars and cents. This is about your soul telling you to write and you listening and not letting your inner shame monkeys convince you to stop.

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    1. "Doing something with great love and minimal talent is still better than doing nothing at all."

      I like that.

      I did admire that about Ed Wood, that he had determination and persistence. He made movies, even if they weren't any good, which is more than a lot of really talented people in Hollywood have been able to do.

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  6. Let me just dig this bullet out of my heart. Yes, I worry all the time that I truly suck as a writer. I have people who tell me otherwise, but so far none of them work in publishing or have paid me any money to read one of my stories. So, yeah, that goes right to the heart of a lot of writer's insecurities. Am I any good? I think even the successful published authors ask that question still, so let's just keep writing and who cares if we knock stuff over. :)

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    1. "I have people who tell me otherwise, but so far none of them work in publishing or have paid me any money to read one of my stories."

      That's where the rubber meets the road, isn't it? But you're right, that insecurity is part of every writer, I think, even published ones.

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  7. I think Ed Wood gave up too soon. He rushed it for sure, but after the flop, if he still loved doing what he was doing, then he should have started at the beginning and learned the craft. If you love it, just keep doing it and odds are, you'll get better :)

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    1. He actually did make more movies, including his ahead-of-its-time semi-autobiographical transvestite movie, "Glen or Glenda." None of them were any good, either.

      But I agree that persistence is a part of success.

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  8. You can always release a few short stories and take this feedback to write a full novel. A short story can be written in a week and released on Kindle right away.

    And your Captcha / Word Verification is still on. I recommend turning it off as Blogger catches 99 percent of all spam and makes it so much easier for visitors to leave comments

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    1. Good advice, but I already wrote a novel. Check the sidebar.

      I don't believe in trying to sell short stories on Kindle. The minimum you can charge is 99-cents, which seems like too much to pay for a short story. I may publish one of my novellas or a short story collection for 99-cents, though.

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  9. In my heart, I believe if you truly love writing, you shouldn't give up. If we reach a point where our writing lags or isn't spot on, maybe it's because we're not writing the right thing. Make sense? I've tried many things, articles, gardening columns, short stories, picture books, YA, MG, adult novels, and I find I do best when I stick to writing for kids. It just fits. Some of the others seem to come up short. I think it's realizing what we're supposed to write, and sticking to it. Are you new to IWSG? Or maybe I haven't made it to your cyber-section of the world. If you're new, WELCOME!!

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    1. Yes, I'm new. First post. And I agree that you can't fit a square peg in a round hole. My work will always have scifi elements, I think

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  10. When I said, "others" I meant my other works, lol. Not other writers. :)

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  11. It took me 27 years to get published. I wanted to give up many many times. I think that's part of the process. But when it's so important and so much a part of your life, thinking and doing is far between. I have the flu right now so my brain's muddled. But--I'm still of the mind that giving up isn't an option.

    Hi, Nigel. Thanks for visiting my blog.

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  12. Nigel - good to see you on the hop.

    Writing is using the language and telling a story. One must do both of those things with some competence.

    Evolving from writer to successful author means doing those two things with some degree of skill (maybe little skill in language if Dan Brown or E.L. James are to be believed) and finding an audience. That's part luck, part P.T.Barnum, and part dedication.

    I'd argue Ed Wood did not take his craft seriously and thus while he made movies, they were not well made movies. We've both seen well made movies that were not entertaining. Wood's movies attract an audience but not for the reasons of acclaim he might have desired.

    I'd say it is a three-legged stool. Two of those legs you can master by study and craft but the audience part: for groundbreaking types it becomes a little of the voodoo.

    There's always room for innovation in the eyes of the public. Now, if that public will follow ? That's the chance. The best we can do is employ our craft soundly and trust in chance. Persistence seems to help placate some of Chance's more fickle nature.

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  13. We all have moments we wonder. Either on the journey to a book or even afterwards. Part of the reason I'm considering hanging it up after my third book is released. I think those three were all flukes.

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