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Thursday, December 19, 2013

Guest Post: Joe Schwartz and his book A Season Without Rain

“Are You A Writer?”

There are probably a million good reasons to write. Could be the next Gone with the Wind is burning inside you or simply a story that you want to preserve for your children i.e., The Shack. To write a novel, something so good that it lives on to become something of a symbol, is a long and winding road. Only time will tell if you did it. In the meantime you should do your best and let it rest. Not everybody will write something great, but rest assured that there is no deeper satisfaction than having written a novel, to have put your hand to the plow and done something equal in accomplishment to single handedly building a home or assembling a race car. This is a task for those with both talent and skill. A book, start to finish, could take years to write up to a lifetime. This is not a something you do casually on weekends in between going to the beach and watching TV sports. It is something that robs you of your sleep without mercy or remorse. But what is the acid test? How can you unequivocally know if you got ‘it’ whatever it is? I offer you the following three points to ponder.

1.      There is only one you.
This is self-evident yet it is the most under rated quality that popular writers fully understand. The trick is to find your niche, that quality of writing that first entertains you as creator and then organically finds an audience. Mark Twain and Stephen King couldn’t be two more different writers. While Twain is a snake charmer with words and Uncle Stevie is doing his damndest to scare the bejesus out you the thing they have in common is that they both have their own, unique writing voice. There are many imitators but there is only one original.
2.      You can speak English.
I didn’t know I was writer until someone finally told me, explained it to me. My theory was anybody could write. You can speak English, so why can’t you write it? The thing is writing is like dancing, or acting, or singing – everybody thinks they can do it.  That is why I subscribe to the theory that a writer without readers is worthless. You must open yourself up to the world that is criticism by the most important, valuable critics a writer can ever have, readers. The greatest novel ever written will perish with its author if he fails to publish it. With a few clicks of a mouse anyone’s work can be in print today. The question is, do you have the guts to do it?
3.      A story can change the world.
Sounds so simple, that it is almost cliché, but it is the truth. Revolutions have begun and wars have ended because writers have dared to put down their thoughts, an explanation of the world as they see it without trying to condone or excuse the conditions. I think immediately of George Orwell, a writer with unmatched vision penning manifestos like Animal Farm and 1984, that still reach into our social consciousness as a guide post warning of what is all too possible when, as Edmund Burke said, “Evil flourishes when good men do nothing.”
            When I was a boy my mother used to tell me the bedtime story of Georgie the Monkey, in hindsight a blatant rip-off of Margret and H.A. Rey’s beloved Curious George. Still, it was the best thing my five-year-old mind had ever heard. To this day she laughs that I remember it, but despite its obvious foolishness, she can recall it word for word. The thing is her story lit the fire in me that burns today, to tell a story that will never be forgotten. And isn’t that what every writer wants, not to be a celebrity, but to be remembered always for writing one hell of a story?

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