Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Moon Landing and Writing: How They're Basically the Same


A writer who doesn't know how to write? That is indeed ironic.

A blog post, that can't be that hard, right? I mean, what do you really have to do besides rant on about what you think about things, you know what I mean?


There's so many components to a good blog that it's actually intimidating. 

For example, having an eye catching title. It's the first thing people see! You've gotta impress them right away or, honey, you've already lost your potential audience.

Not only drawing people in, but keeping them with you is another challenge bloggers face. 

Luckily, sites such as this one operate to help you make sure you know just what things to try and work into your blog to make it as appealing as possible.

It's one of the many readings that I've had to do so far for my Literary Citizenship class that's beginning to help mold me into a more conscious citizen of the literary world.

What Is Literary Citizenship?

I can't tell you how many times I've been asked that. I'm still learning myself just what it means to be a literary citizen, but this is the general gist I have so far:

Reaching out into the literary community and helping other writers by promoting their work, being interested in what others are doing, so that you may make yourself known. When the time comes for you to need similar backing, if you've done your outreach right, you should have some connections to at least help you get started.

In one of the readings that we had to do, Chuck Sambuchino's "12 Principles of Platform," a main point of his was that "in giving, we receive."

That means we, as comrades in the literary community, must give recognition to others and their hard work in order to hopefully receive that same attention one day.

Being in this class will improve my own literary citizenship.

I'm in this class, honestly, because it is a mandatory class for my Creative Writing major. But the fact that it's mandatory does nothing to change the fact that I'm not excited to learn.

Making your way into such a competitive field that is only getting tighter and more selective is extremely hard. But I feel that at the end of this course, I'll be able to find the ways to make connections with other writers and find that elusive tunnel out into the writing world.

So How Do I Get Out There?

Well, you can start with something really simple:

Just give.

Read a book and then write a review of it and post it online.

OR if technology still rocks your boat in all the wrong ways, review it the old fashioned way: by word of mouth.

I love being able to talk about a good book I just read. Or any of the books I have read.

And, although I am a meteorology minor, sometimes I like to talk about things other than the weather with people.

Some Stuff That's Helped

Last week, we had to read Austin Kleon's Steal Like An Artist. The book was not only original in its square, smaller pages, but in the fact that it was a very visual book. 

What I took away from it, and will remember most, is that when we learn to write, we emulate our heroes. (Hence, we steal). 

We copy styles, word choices, maybe even genres from our favorite authors until we learn to write ourselves. They are our grand stepping stones into the world of book writing.

I know that I stole from Dean Koontz and learned how to write from him. I even wrote to him on multiple occasions and he responded! Not just a standard, pre-written letter, but he actually took the time to physically write a response himself.

And that meant the world to me.

So, as Kleon says, steal like an artist and use their knowledge to help find yourself in the writing world...but then give back! Send them a letter telling them how much you loved a book or something along those lines.

You're killing two birds with one stone.

We Do These Things Because They Are Hard

Yeah, that's a little JFK action in there for ya. 

But his famous quote fits in perfectly with not only trying to land men on the moon, but also writing.

How can you compare space travel to simply writing?! 

Easy: with words.

The point is, in Betsy Lerner's book, The Forest for the Trees, she discusses the writer's most feared thing: rejection.


And while, yes, it may be a horrifying, crippling thing, she spins it in a more positive light.

She compares each stage of rejection as being just another stepping stone in the writing world.

You start out with informal letters; move onto informal letters with something scrawled on it, maybe an actual (although illegible) signature from an editor; then you get a letter with more comments; and finally the personal letter which may tell you to "try us again" or "give this a try" and so on.

That final personal letter, while still a rejection, is what Lerner compares to landing on the moon. 

It's a GIANT leap and means that you're almost there! Keep up the faith, good writer. Don't settle for anything less than not only going to the moon, but returning home safely (hopefully with an offer by a publisher).

I completely love space beyond almost anything else in this world, and when she used this analogy, it really helped me to realize that rejection is a long, scary road, but eventually, with persistence and determination, success can and will be achieved. 

We DID make it to the moon after all. 

I want to not only emulate my favorite authors, but also my heroes of space travel.

To Disengage

The most important things to remember are that in this world of writing, you aren't alone. There is a whole big ocean of writers struggling to have themselves be known.

We all need to help each other.

Give, and ye shall receive.

Learn from your heroes and tell them so.

Reach out! Don't be silent. Talk to others, make yourself available. Make your own little writing community.

And most importantly, shoot for the moon. Because, c'mon, who doesn't want to go to the moon?

Apollo 11 Astronauts
Neil Armstrong
Michael Collins
Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin

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