Pretty early in life I contracted a heavy dose of what I call “The Popeye Syndrome”. You know what I mean. The whole “I am what I am” deal. This is me. Accept me or don’t.
As far back as I can remember people have been trying their best to set me straight. A lot of tears have been shed, a lot of prayers offered up. In fact, here’s a particularly telling picture of me during an intervention, with family members holding me down and begging me to listen to reason.
I’ve always wanted to write the same way I’ve lived my life, with my inner self held in total isolation, not thinking about whether people will like it or whether it will make money. My thoughts are my own. It is what it is.
Cue Jimi Hendrix here and picture some crazy guy flyin’ his freak flag high… high… high.
But when I started this blog I started running into a lot of other writers, some of them with a good education and solid publishing experience under their belts. People who knew what they were doing. They wrote about three-act structure, conflict and resolution, outlines and plotting, and the most bitter pill of all… editing.
I tried my best to ignore all this good advice, of course, but somewhere along the line a strange thing happened. What they were writing about started to make sense. Stuff started to rub off on me.
Lo and Behold… cue Handel’s Messiah here… I began to listen.
So… I stepped back from work on my next book and started reading… Plot & Structure… Beginnings, Middles & Ends… STORY STRUCTURE architect… The Hero With A Thousand Faces. Right now I’m working my way through these and poring over everything I can come across that has anything to do with writing as a craft. I’m paying attention, and taking copious notes on what others say and do.
In fact, here’s a picture my wife took just today. It’s me getting ready to down another full can of the stuff that makes great writing.
Of course, what isn’t in that picture is the bag of salt that’s hidden off to the side. You see, I don’t take what others say with just a grain of salt. I pour it on pretty heavy.
In the end, you know… I am what I am.