February 21, 2018

Inside a Writer's Mind

A peculiar thing happens to writers. Not immediately, you understand. But as we learn our craft and smooth the rough spots, the rhythms of writing start to become second nature. Then, suddenly, we find ourselves unable to read fiction or watch a movie without applying every tidbit we've gleaned from myriad how-to books, magazine articles, workshops, and conferences.
This may not seem like a big thing, but for me, the phenomenon comes close to obsessive. Imagine a family member's reaction when I groan about a story I'm reading: "Why did the author do that? It's not in character!" Or I turn and smile knowingly at my husband: "Did you see the way the screenwriter used foreshadowing?" or "Right there--that was the second turning point!" He just shakes his head.

But this new awareness is not a bad thing. The very fact that we as writers recognize the structure, symbolism, and end intent of another's work proves that we are growing--absorbing the sweat equity of those who have clawed their way to the top of the cliff and hoisted themselves over. A reward, if you will.

Every craft has its weirdness, and it takes a certain amount of "hermit-ness" to stay the course. But behind the drive to become published, a thought hovers in the back of every writer's mind as he or she reads a bestseller or watches a great movie--I can do this.

©2018 Toni Leland

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