A Word to Newbie Writers

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Charles Bukowski

He was, in my opinion, the greatest American fiction writer of the last half of the 20th century.   Fortunately for his book sales, most think of him as the archetypal drunk, misanthropic male pig. Whatever else he was, he was also the archetypal writer, a force of nature who knew exactly what to do to a blank page. 

Bukowski attributed so much weight to the single line that it eclipsed the writing philosophy of writing. If the single line was magnificent, the rest would take care of itself.  In a 60,000 word novel, the working focus was on the single line. In the sex stories he wrote and sold to skin mags for money, the working focus was on the single line. In a small, immortal poem that 50 people might read, his working focus was on the single line.

Do you possess this kind of love for your words? Well?  Do you?  Possess this kind of love and respect for your work? Do you respect your craft enough to narrow your focus to the attention of a single line? It’s not easy. It’s not fast. “But this must certainly be a path to immortal (and powerfully influential) writing.  If you can stomach it.”   Robert Bruce when writing about Henry Charles Bukowski, Jr.
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I’ve encouraged to re-write and delete and edit so much in my blogging you probably want to take a
‘delete’ key to me!  BUT!  It’s what makes a so-so writer into a good or great one.

Experienced writers know this and value the rewrite more than anything.  That’s really when the magic happens.
In a recent interview here with Jo-Ann Mapson, she said, “I love rewriting. Just thank God for it every single day, because that is where good writing pokes its head up.”

A word to you aspiring writers:  I’ve been there, believe me, when I was terrified to delete a single word.
Not that I was certain that everything I uttered was ‘gold’…..far from it….no, terrified that I had nothing better to replace it with. Now that I have found my ‘process’ I understand how I work.  I write it in my head for days, then, when the moment comes I type (thank God for my Admin skills of 75 wpm in a previous life).  Once the story is laid down, I begin the re-writing, editing, adding, deleting.

Re-writing and deleting:  some of my best work has been born in the re-write.  Some of my worst work has been write, create, writing, authors, blogdeleted.  Get it?

The Delete key:  I know, I know, I’m a tired old record.  But it can’t be said enough.  Get to know and love your delete key.  Every word you write isn’t going to be ‘golden’.  Before you push your child (story) out into traffic (the world) you are the only critic and editor in the room.  Be certain that you critique yourself; keep polishing, keep editing.

I’m of the school of writers that believes my work is never finished;  I could and have found something to re-write in everything I have published.  It’s a demon I have to live with.

The Mocking Bird by Charles Bukowski ©

The mocking bird had been following the cat
all summer
mocking, mocking, mocking

Teasing and cocksure;
the cat crawled under rockers on porches
tail flashing
and said something angry to the mocking bird
which I didn’t understand

Yesterday the cat walked calmly up the driveway
with the mocking bird alive in its mouth
wings fanned, wings fanned and flopping
feathers parted like a woman’s legs
and the bird was no longer mocking…   (from his book of poetry:  The Pleasures of the Damned)

Reprised from post 3/2013 writeratplay.com
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Watch for more interviews with authors.  October: Simon Gervais for ROBERT LUDLUM, November:  Horror writer, Kevin J. Kennedy, December: Marc Cameron, writing for TOM CLANCY

 

A few BOOKS BY TRISHA SUGAREK

 

 

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