About two weeks ago, I blogged about taking classes online. The first class I attempted turned into a ball of frustration as I tried to locate, sans links, the course site and readings. Because I take these classes for FUN, I quickly gave up and moved to the next course. Creative Writing: A Master Class for which I downloaded the itunes app.
The first lecture was given by playwright August Wilson. Wilson discusses his efforts to have his work accepted so that he could attend the National Playwrights conference. Wilson described writing several plays only to have them rejected one by one. It wasn’t until his fourth or fifth effort that his work was accepted.
What did he do differently that time around? He says that that was when he realized that he was sitting in the same writing chair as Tennessee Williams and as Ibsen. An unknown with no plays to his credit, he was in the exact same position that they were when they sat down to write. He had to figure out how to get actors onto the stage and all of the other things that have to be accomplished in a play.
He had to do these things but so did the greats.
Think about your own writing. Are you writing picture books like Jane Yolen? Maybe you are writing early readers like Arnold Lobel. Me? Some day s I write nonfiction like James Cross Giblin. I’m getting ready to work on a middle grade novel just like Bruce Coville.
No matter what you write, you are doing the same thing as the luminaries in your field. You have the same goal. You have similar tools.
Will this realization change how you write? So often we are told to remember that we are in competition with every book that is in print. Your work has to be that good or better or it will never see print. And, that’s true enough.
But Wilson has definitely hit on something. As soon as you sit down to write, or stand at an easel to paint, you have the same goals and the same means to get there as the greats.
You just need to make the work your own. How about them apples? (To quote my grandmother.)