Now in the final month of 2015, I am reviewing, in reverse order, the top-ten-best received of my posts.
Number nine; Stages on becoming a writer.
In December, I am revisiting the best-received posts – number ten – a book review
#10 Three Dog Life 12/4
#9 The Evolution of One Writer 12/6
#8 Before I Built a Wall…. 12/8
#7 Birches – Robert Frost 12/10
#6 You Could Be Immortal 12/12
#5 FDR is DEAD! 12/14
#4 Ella and Louis 12/16
#3 Journey of the Human Mind – Introduction 12/18
#2 Writers and The Butterfly 12/20
#1 Lessons from My Grandmother 12/22
A first person history.
cowboy image by Pinkey Bucket,
My grandfather was a real cowboy, When he was eleven years old, he and his twin brother drove his widowed mother’s cattle to Chicago to the auction. They had rifles in their saddles to fight off cattle rustlers on the way up, thieves on the way home. It was a year’s worth of cash in their saddle bags. -1903 – non-fiction. Unfortunately, he never wrote it down. I’m determined that my sons will be able to read about my life.
Now, that’s the grist for your mill. My grandmother was born in 1892, in a wagon while her mother was being ported across the Missippi River on her father’s way to stake out some land.
My father graduated from high school in Oklahoma in 1929. In the Great Depression, he had to make his way in the world, support a family and help educate me. He never wrote any of that down.
My mother was one of the first girls to get a college education in Oklahoma [Oklahoma College for Women- class of 1932] No one wrote anything down; there should have been a book, there.
I was the first male in my family to even enter a college. I always saw myself on a horse or boiling coffee grounds on a campfire, lucky to be able to read Zane Grey.
When I was in remedial English in college, I was instructed: “Do not write, if you can help it“ Elizabeth Hope Jackson – my English Teacher.
I was able to keep the urge locked up for a long time. I had to learn the origin, the course, the branches and the function of the twelve cranial nerves [O. O.T.T.A.F.A.G.V.S.H; I can recite those, after 50 years!].
I did not care a hoot about dangling participles!
In spite of Miss Jackson’s admonition, one day, “I put my hand on a rock, looked up in the sky, and in a loud voice, I said:
I AM a WRITER!”
“He who would learn to fly one day must first learn to stand and walk and run and climb and dance; one cannot fly into flying.” Friedrich Nietzsche
“Think digging ditches is hard? At least you know when you are done. Think erecting a skyscraper is hard? At least what you have when you are finished is an unequivocally completed project. Think flipping burgers at the fast food restaurant in the strip mall of the nowhere town in which you live sucks? At least you get a paycheck.
Writing is thankless work. It is like housework. It is like laundry. It is like a soap opera. It is never finished. There is always more to do. People may tell you that you are good, but you won’t believe them, or you will believe them too much, or you will not know who to believe, least of all yourself and this thing you created that is
nothing more than a mess of letters trying to make sense of things that don’t: life, death, what happens in between.”
We demand to see everything.
We want to see behind every facade; to tear back the curtain of “The Wizard”.
To fly, we must first learn to stand and walk [Every day, make an appointment with yourself to write]-write the alphabet- write about how difficult is to start- do it the way that musicians do their scales.
Without complaint, a good musician just does his scales every day. Sentences are your weapons. Words are your ammunition. A soldier field strips his rifle and cleans the parts every day. If you think you can write, be prepared to use your weapon. Be a warrior with a pen. [It is mightier tnan the sword- “to coin a phrase” 🙂 ]
Be ready with your weapons when an idea crystallizes, which they always do [Mine come dissolved in my morning coffee -sleep, followed by coffee- I write an hour before breakfast, like runners run..
Then run and climb,
“One cannot fly into flying.”
My epiphany tells me that these are the stages of becoming a writer.
Great writers are flying.
I would say I am at a fast walking phase, aspiring to “the dance”; now with elementary dancing lessons.
Where are you?
References: I’ve read a dozen or more books on writing: IMHO, the two best are: Anne Lamott and Annie Dillard with the advantage to Dillard,
The Writing Life: Annie Dillard: and Bird by Bird by- Anne Lamott
Charles Clanton Rogers Extensive revisions December 2015