Excuse Me?

“Great is the art of beginning, but greater the art of ending.” Longfellow

When I first wrote my book, The Lost I, based on my personal experiences of civil war, one of my friends said:
“You know, I could write a book too. In fact I could have written a better book than yours.”
Taken aback, I thought for a moment and said:
“Excuse me? You could. Perhaps you could have done a better job than I, but you didn’t, and I did.”

Just like George Ade’s (the humorist) mother used to tell the world:
“Everyone says that they can write better than George does- but George does!”

We all have a story to tell. And as Barnaby Conrad once said at a writers’ conference:
“When I was starting to write, my older brother used to read my stuff, shake his head, and say: “If only I wrote I would write so much better than you.”
And he was probably right, because he had a rare gift with words, but we’ll never know because he never got around to writing.”

We all can write. The Spanish writer Camilo Jose Cela, who received the Nobel prize for literature in 1989, often liked to tell the following story:

“A young man once said to Flaubert, ‘Give me a plot, and I’ll write a novel,’ and Flaubert said; ‘Write this down- a man and a woman fall in love. That’s the story. Now you have to provide the talent.’ What Flaubert was saying, of course, was that you have to tell me who the man is, who the woman is, and why we should care whether they fall in love or not.”

At some point in our lives we all want to be writers. But not all of us are ready to work hard, to actually sit at our desks and write day after day after day. Deciding to be a writer and actually becoming a writer are two different things. When someone once asked Robert Frost why he decided to be a poet,
“My dear,” he answered, “when did you decide to become a beautiful woman?”

So, what are you waiting for? Go to your computer or yellow pad and start on that article, story or novel of yours that you’ve been wanting to write for so long! And remember Tony Hillerman’s rule for writing:

“Don’t make a career out of writing first chapters!”


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4 Responses to Excuse Me?

  1. marisaporter says:

    I love it! I also love this quote, but cannot remember where I found it. “I like my way of doing it better than your way of not doing it.”

  2. Susan Rocan says:

    Thanks for the pep talk! I have been finding so many excuses for not working on my third novel. I need to find excuses to actually find the time to sit down at the computer and finish it!

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