We all can be amazing, right? Or can we?
Like the young man in the mouth of the cave — it’s all about what we see. And what we choose to look at as writers will set us apart from the crowd.
Imagine the mouth of the cave is moveable, like a camera’s viewfinder. Let’s scroll over to the left a bit. And now, over to the right.
Each time we move the viewfinder, each time we shift our focus, we’re looking at the landscape from a slightly different point of view. That’s what writer’s do. We look at what is there for everyone else to see, but we each look at it differently.
And then we write about what we see through our viewfinder and we write about the way we understand it — when we write from our point of view — our readers will recognize the landscape, but, if we’ve written well, our point of view will allow them to see it in a new way.
Great writers, amazing writers challenge their readers to see things differently, to think about issues or ideas in ways they might not have before. Great writers make the every-day seem new and make the foreign seem familiar.
“What is it? The ordinary is extraordinary…The ordinary is the thing we want back when someone we love dies… or leaves or falls out of love with us.
We call it “little things”. We say, “it’s the little things I miss most.” The ordinary things. It’s the little thing that brings them back to us unexpectedly…It’s spark and breach so ordinary we do not question it.
The atom split. The little thing.” — Lynda Barry ‘What It Is’
We’re all capable of it. We all use the same words. We all combine those same, pesky little twenty-six letters into “words” — the written symbols for certain thoughts or feelings.
“Words are a lens to focus one’s mind.”– Ayn Rand
We’re all perfectly capable of using those words just as well as they’re used by any seasoned, famous author. That’s what’s so tantalizing — the idea, the notion that we can do it too. If we work hard enough, we can actually string those words together as well as any famous author.
And we can… given enough effort and polishing and persistence.
Truly, the only thing which separates us from them (okay, besides the wealth and fame and lifestyle) is what they choose to write about — their imagination; their take on the world; their ideas about how things should or shouldn’t be; their focus on the larger landscape.
The difference between what we write and what amazing authors write is not in the words or the polish. It’s in what we look at — what we write about.
“True originality consists not in a new manner but in a new vision. That new, that personal, vision is attained only by looking long enough at the object represented to make it the writers own…” — Edith Wharton ‘The Writing of Fiction’
Okay, that sounds a little daunting, but I have faith in me. And I know it will take practice, dedication, consistency, and LOTS of writing. But, the thought we can compete with the greats and succeed, that’s the dream which keeps us going. Right from our first tentative, stumbling beginnings.
“You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it.
That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence.”―Octavia E. Butler
That’s the promise that tantalizes, the stick that drives us and the dream which props us up when we falter
The notion that we, too, can write that well; that we, too, can get there. That we will get there. If we only stick at it long enough; if we don’t give up; if we hang in there ’til we finally succeed.
How do you gauge your success? What does success look like to you?
Readers, followers, views, engagement (highlights, comments), applause, being accepted as a writer in publications, metric analysis, the MPP payout — all these are ways of gauging our success on Medium.
“Likes”, “loves” and followers, retweets, gaining the support of influencers — all these are ways of gauging our effective use of social media.
Lying on a beach somewhere sipping cool, iced beverages from fancy cocktail glasses with little umbrellas twirling on top? Sounds good to me, but then, it’s still snowing and minus twenty here today…
But right now, success to me, as a writer, my words in print, my mortgage paid, and a liveable income from writing. Moving someplace warm (well, warmer) to write. To keep on writing and publishing ’til…well, basically, forever, or I decide I need to do something else.
When I’m out shopping with my family or friends, I point to the books racks wherever we are — in the grocery store, the drug store, or the local WalMart — and I say, “One day, you’re gonna see my books for sale on those shelves.”
It’s my own, personal affirmation. And I’m working towards my goals. I need to get better at it, mind you, but I have faith in me. I’m improving. And I’ll continue to improve. And eventually…
In the meantime, I’ll be here honing my skills, and learning, and having fun doing what I was born to do — writing.