Ira Glass, on Creativity

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Is the work you’re making as good as your ambitions?

A few days ago I was talking to my sister about the trials of creativity.  We were discussing the difference between what we wanted to do, and what we were capable of making.  It is so frustrating – in the beginning of a creative career – when you are not quite as good as you want to be.

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Your first rejection?

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Feature image from MANUSCRAPPED

By Jacob Henwood.

What changes after your first rejection?

Lots of stuff. It is harrowing. It is literally one of the hardest literary things you are ever going to experience. It is like eating carob, but it never ends.   Everything you ever submit ever again gets automatically rejected. Forever. You just get the one go.

No-one ever tells you that until it’s too late.

No.  It is not like eating carob at all. It’s fine. It’s better than fine. It’s really good!

There are lots of reasons why it is good: you can learn about your writing; you get to practice the submission process; and you get the chance to make it better.

I got some fantastic feedback from people who felt absolutely no obligation to make me feel better about myself and in all likelihood were not involved in my upbringing. Maybe they were; the process was anonymous.

The best part though was that the moment the submission went through a wall collapsed. Not a real one. Submitting stories does not compromise the structural integrity of buildings. Imagine if it did. That would be bad. Luckily, it was a metaphorical wall. I had never noticed it before, but when it was gone a lot of things started to make sense.

What I realised as I stood amongst the debris was that it really didn’t matter if I got rejected. Lots of writers have been rejected. That isn’t news. It doesn’t matter to me and my writing. It will change my writing, because everything should change my writing.

It doesn’t mean that the story I am trying to tell isn’t a story worth telling. It means that I haven’t conveyed that yet.  Perhaps I don’t have the skills, or the experience to do that yet. No biggie. I’ll keep going. I will learn, redraft, and submit again.  I will probably be rejected again. When that happens, I will keep going.

There is a question that you should ask yourself. Why do you write? I write because I love the process, and I love books, and I love telling stories. I cannot think of anything that I would rather do with my time. When I look at that story now, I can see very clearly that I gnawed at the story instead of polishing it. That is a good thing, because now I get to make it better. I get to go back to what I love doing, and make it tighter, and make it cleaner, and make it with the best words with which I am able. Words are the wizard’s bananas, and writing them is the complete opposite of eating carob.

Failing NaNoWriMo

Writing for NaNo, Emerging Writer, Meghan Brewster,

Writing for NaNo, Emerging Writer, Meghan Brewster,

Failing NaNoWriMo, Meghan Brewster, emerging writer









So I failed the challenge of the National Novel Writing Month – There is no other way to put it.  I fell short of the word target by about 15 000 words. That is a bit less than a third of the challenge.  But I have to tell you though that I was not idle during the month of November, and I am still quite proud of what I achieved.

NaNo reminded me of how easy it is to write once you get out of your own way and sit down to do the work

In the month of November I have finished writing my first Ebook, have a designer working on the jacket, have hired my first editor to work on the project and have updated and expanded the website.  All of this was achieved while organising a wedding, backpacking through Southern Thailand and writing 35 ooo words for NaNo.  (I am smiling right now)

I am not trying to make up excuses for not doing the writing, I am simply saying that regardless of my failure I have had a fantastic month and if it weren’t for NaNo I would not have a great half-draft for my next project – ready to go.

I am so glad I was a part of it.  NaNo reminded me of how easy it is to write once you get out of your own way and just sit down to do the work.  I thought I would spend a month writing garbled nonsense but I didn’t.  I managed to really lay down a strong foundation for my next novella.  I found a few great characters in Thailand and was completely inspired by the location and history.

As well as writing a half-draft of a novella about Thailand, I found that my mind was so receptive to new ideas that I had to start another folder just to keep track of all my new ideas.  Once I was relaxed into the writing I found that I was like a little beacon on the beach in Thailand attracting ideas straight out of the sky.

I just have to try again next year.