By: Peter B. Giblett
How and Why Will I Change?
This is a story about change. Everyone and everything changes. It is a fact. Approaching Scott Biddulph to write once again for Two Drops of Ink, I was a little hesitant. I wondered if my writing would fit among all the memoir chapters being published at that time. I love to read memoirs, but did not consider it my genre.
Two Drops of Ink has always been an exciting site. Not a day went by without reading the newly published pages. My question, would I fit in? Like many writers, I had dabbled in autobiographical work, and still do. My aim was to contribute in other ways.
A video course by Professor Tilar Mazzaeo called Writing Creative Nonfiction, helped confirm that memoir writing was not in my future. Knowing the things you don’t wish to do are as important as knowing your desires. I sent my letter to Scott anyway.
What to Contribute?
That was not the end of the story. When you say you won’t, you often do, anyway. I wrote a couple of memoir pieces, not because it was fashionable, but because they were appropriate.
Therefore, I penned two during the past year. One published on Two Drops of Ink, called: Hardwired to Connect, or Triggered in Childhood . The other was intended to be published here, except Two Drops of Ink was in the middle of a short story contest when the appropriate date occurred. On the 30th anniversary of this event, November 18th, I decided to publish on my site. See “Last Train Out… A Memoir of the Kings Cross Fire 1987“.
Both these stories were purely personal, not including the views of others, yet historical stories must.
Role of Perspective
The theme here is writing dangerously, this means writing pieces that have an impact. Perhaps writing to change a point of view. Get the mechanics right, then all views flow. The challenge, seeing one element in the context of the whole.
Four witnesses seeing someone in action will each have a distinct perspective. Each sees part of the story, but only part of it. Each brings, their own prejudices as well, as can
“He was a yob wearing a hoodie. Nothing but trouble that sort. He went running off around the corner.” Explained the old lady.
“He had no regard for the traffic. Not a care in the world. He ran across the road in front of a pick-up truck. Almost caused an accident.” Explained another witness.
“He darted off behind a wall.” Explained the third witness. “Then a few seconds later I heard a great explosion and wondered if he bombed the place.”
But all is made clear only when the fourth witness told his story.
“I was driving the pickup truck. I was stopped at the crossing. A youngster, wearing a red hoodie came around the corner and started crossing the road. It was at that moment he looked up and started sprinting towards the driveway hidden behind a tall wall. I watched as he ran.
I felt helpless, strapped to my seat by the seatbelt. This young man was a hero. He saved the old man from certain death. The old man had been walking down the path but didn’t realise that a piano was right above him. It was being hoisted into a second story window, but didn’t make it.”
How Others Think
Perspective and prejudice many options to writing. Writers will already know their viewpoint on most subjects. But, do they know their own prejudices? Most do not, some even claim they have none. The truth is that every person has some.
We don’t know how other people think. Sometimes there are clues, but often there are not. We can only guess. Yet with everything that happens in the world, there are lots of different thoughts that come into play. No two people see the same event/incident/activity the same way. This gives so many options for the telling of stories, even factual ones. Those prejudices are also another matter.
My father rarely talked about his wartime experience, but when he did, his view was different to many. To him, there was nothing heroic about war. It was full of horrors and dark deeds. Those moments that no person should endure. That was his experience and perspective at play. Each perspective matters. My perspective may differ from yours. Every other person has a different view, but it is what makes life worth living. For a writer, each perspective can provide opportunities to create so many different stories.
Search for Truth
Perspective and prejudices impact interpretation. They are also a part of something else, a search for truth.
That course by Professor Mazzaeo led me on one further quest. An exploration into the need for nonfiction writers to speak the truth. She was speaking specifically about doing so in memoirs. My thoughts were much wider though, thinking through the duties of the factual or nonfiction writer in speaking the truth.
Sometimes the truth means a writer must live dangerously, test the minds of the reader. Take an unfamiliar perspective. Be in a minority of one. Stand up for what is right. Pronounce others to be wrong. In taking a distinct perspective they, perhaps, see a different truth. Differences are what make us human.
Differences, yet Commonality
But with so many differences, how can writers work together? Most writers share a common goal – that of finding readers. That is true whether you are writing a political blog or looking to sell your latest novel. To a significant extent, we have never had so many opportunities to write. There are more openings for writers than ever before.
In Living a Golden Era? Are you a Serious Writer?, I took an opportunity to look at where the world is today. “We can always look at another era as being the time when talented artists existed“, but we should be looking at developing the talent that exists today. That is where collaboration comes into play. In part, that is why I chose to publish a poem, that I had been working on for more than a year, here on Two Drops of Ink.
Gaining feedback and people’s thoughts is vital when you are trying to develop fresh aspects for your writing. That is why groups of like-minded people are precious. They help you develop ideas. This is also where the value of the social networks is paramount. Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and even LinkedIn, are important in building both interest and readership. You will find plenty of people who will share your view on any topic you care to name. You will also find plenty of people who consider you a lunatic – perhaps the greatest challenge of the social network.
According to Scott Biddulph, the definition of what makes a writer “includes having really thick skin.” They need to train themselves for rejection in the same way a player with the ball expects to be tackled.
Rachel Mendell makes the point that “some of my editors were harsh and frequently threw backstories for a rewrite.” She continues saying, “it took months before I understood what they wanted. I learned every writer needs an editor. They sharpen us. They make us sound good.”
I look forward to a period of “being sharpened” as a writer and know it is necessary to grow a thicker skin. Rejection seems so personal when you get the rejection letter; but, at least that editor is communicating. The greatest challenge I have found in sending out query letters is never getting any response. I know it is a numbers game, but that doesn’t help when you think you have the perfect piece for the perfect publisher.
At least if you have a rejection, you can take another step. Ask what needs improving.
Goals and Improvement
I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions. I plan the projects I am working in a recurring 6-week cycle, subject to immediate review if I get any new client request. My priority is earning more from my writing and publishing in more places (even if it is without a byline as most are right now). To do that, I must approach more publications than ever before, talk to people every day. My ears are open if any reader has a suggestion for a place to approach that is looking for writers or contributions. Indeed, it is good to share opportunities.
That means I must enter a period of writing dangerously. Seek out publishers where I have never looked before. Do your skills need sharpening?
Two Drops of Ink is a wonderful place to sharpen your writing skills. Look at some of the following articles:
- Stop Over-Explaining; I Get It!
- Discouraged about your Writing? Write Yourself a Letter
- Cut with Courage
- Revising: But I Thought I Was Done!
- Figuring It Out: Using Rhetorical Devices in Your Writing
- Grammar Shorts: Acronyms and Their Proper Usage
There are many other articles published here that also aid your writing skills, these were random pick throughout the year.
Value of High-Quality
The word meta is defined as (a creative work) referring to itself or to the conventions of its genre — thus self-referential. When applied to the concept of writing, meta-writing is writing about the conventions and mechanics of writing. Similarly, meta-blogging is writing about the mechanics and conventions of blogging. One of the aspects of Two Drops of Ink is the meta-writing that is a critical part of the site. One of the aspects of my site, Gobbledegoox is the meta-blogging that is a part of the site.
I blog about blogging, but I also believe in the value of high quality writing and how it can impact the reader. A blogger’s ability to write well is vital. Whether you are writing fact or fiction, skillful writing demands an ability to tell a good story. That is what will satisfy the discerning reader.
Two Drops of Ink: The Literary Home for Collaborative Writing
Peter B. Giblett
Peter B. Giblett is a freelance editor and writer with a background in business and technology management. He is also a non-practicing lawyer. English born, now living in Canada, he’s an Alumni of City University (London) and University of West London. Entrant and winner of National Novel Writing Month 2015, a novel he is currently editing. He runs his own blog called GobbledeGoox , which provides thoughts on writing, blogging, words, and wordcraft.
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All images from Pixabay. The featured image is by Ben Kerckx, a CC0 Public Domain image acquired from Pixabay.