"The Tale of a Modern Day Writer (The Perfect Recipe)"
By: Garett R. Nadrich
Struggle. A struggle for ideas, and a struggle for self-confidence. The infinite number of insecurities combined with the torturous act of being honest with one's self about his own material can drive a man into complete and utter madness.
With each of my hands balled into fists so tight I feel a numbing and pounding pain in the palms of my hands, I ponder the same questions over and over again, as I stare at my finished manuscript. What is missing? What am I doing wrong? Why do I feel dissatisfied? I've spent two weeks on this piece, researching, editing, and revising. My manuscript should be picture-perfect. Why do I still have a constant feeling of emptiness?
To let out some anger, I grit my teeth in frustration and pound my desk with my fists. I have become so insecure with the content of my writing by this point that I can hardly read another author's novels. I crave a descriptive style that favors John Steinbeck's, and a vocabulary equivalent to that found in Arthur Miller's works. I just can't seem to get it out of me, or even find it within myself.
It has almost come to the point in my life that I no longer care how many magazine articles I get published, or even if my novels become bestsellers one day. Throughout this whole ordeal I've had a constant lack of faith in my writing, one that is almost unexplainable. I know now that I need to become one with my writing, and possess ample confidence while doing so. All the rejections have taken a tremendous toll on me. I need to find myself, to stop typing senselessly and start feeling my work.
That's it! Feeling. I guess I've never felt anything I've ever written before. I would simply create characters. That's where I went wrong. The characters we create are a subdivision of ourselves, our fears, our everyday anxieties and concerns, our hopes and dreams. Readers tend to remember characters who touched their hearts by mesmerizing or inspiring them in some way. In order to create such characters, an effective writer cannot be afraid to expose himself to the world through the written word. There is a great difference between writing an error-free paper with an extremely impressive usage of vocabulary and writing a heartfelt story that can make or break a reader's day.
In order to grasp readers, an author must first attain the most important tool that any writer can possibly possess: honesty. Once a writer has achieved complete honesty with his own feelings when writing, empathy will emerge and insert itself into his written work. The bottom line is that writing without the seat of passion that lies within ourselves is equivalent to writing without meaning. Words must be backed up by emotion, and where feeling is missing, an overlying lack of interest tends to follow.
That's probably why we writers spend so much time comparing our works to others, because we are looking for that extra push, that small addition to our self- confidence that will change us forever. As we grow older, our styles will change, and so will our experiences. We'll tend to look back at our work and think about how inexperienced and immature our style was in the past. But little do we know, that that inexperienced aura tends to almost be infinite. No matter how much we improve or enhance our style and abilities, one year from now we will still be striving for the one thing that is almost impossible to achieve: Perfection. Writers have a tendency to concentrate more on completing a flawless piece of work than on captivating their readers. Most books become runaway bestsellers because of their breath-taking effect, not because of the author's verbal usage.
This is what I began to realize as I sat at my desk, covering my entire head with my hands, biting nervously at the edge of my glasses. I'll never be perfect. I tend to get the picture that those prissy, overweening men in tight black suits behind glass doors and pine wood desks had in some way reached the apex of life. But indeed, they have not. Writing goes much deeper than clothes, furniture and book sales. It comes from one's heart. I could sit down at any given day and write an eight page short story filled with so much action, suspense and drama that any reader would applaud the premise of the idea and my imaginative background. But on the other hand, it is a completely different situation when a reader feels my story in its entirety, and is emotionally changed by a piece of my writing. Then, and only then, will I have come as close to perfection as possible.
It seems as if we writers wind up so engulfed in manuscript formats, page margins, font sizes, and guidelines that we begin to lose the whole purpose in the matter at hand; the purpose to write, and the aspiration to pour all of our feelings onto a piece of paper, in hopes of reaching and touching other people, somehow changing their lives in some way so that one day they can credit our names when they remember a good story. That is what writing is all about. It is not only an art, but a unique and powerful personal empathy.
Whether I write a story on a typewriter, napkin, or loose-leaf paper, I'll know that my writing is credible if the same emotions are given off as the ones I feel inside, wherever and whatever I write. Knowing this, I have come to peace with myself at least for tonight. I hope when I wake tomorrow, the stress of everyday life does not force me to separate from this wonderful perception. But for now, I must get back to this lingering manuscript, and back to the struggle. It's time to revise and edit, this time with a sense of passion and a dash of devotion. It's the perfect recipe, and only with the right ingredients will I emerge a victor.
Note: Written by our director, "Tale of a Modern Day Writer" was Published in the June 1999 Issue of Haven's List Newsletter. (http://www.wordweaving.com/haven_jun99.html) Yet more proof where a teen CAN and WILL be published!