The other night, I was thinking about a young writer I know who writes widely, who experiments and tries on different styles, but the results are never my thing. I can’t seem to engage in any aspect of this writer’s work. It’s not bad work; it’s just work that doesn’t speak to me.
So I got to thinking: perhaps the problem is that the writer is not yet writing about things of deep importance to herself. She’s trying on personae, she’s investigating different modes of writing, and while this is great, it often produces work that the writer is not 100 percent invested in. I don’t think she cares deeply about her characters, so I don’t either. I think a lack of passion for the work shows on the page.
I know, because I’m sometimes guilty of this. Take the last few weeks’ worth of blogs, below. Or specifically, take the obligatory, profoundly unengaged April Fool’s musings just below. The thing about a commitment to, say, a three-times a week blogging schedule, is that sometimes there are off days. Or off weeks. Or even off projects. I’m still not sure what this blog is about, if there’s anyone who has any interest in the cloud of topics I generally focus on, and if this is even a good use of time. What I do know is the entries comes faster and are better when I’m riled up about a topic.
I was looking for something in Neil Gaiman’s journal I remembered him writing about style so I could read to my students, and in the process found something else about writing (lost the link) in which he talked about becoming successful when he began working on comics, because he was passionate about the characters and stories he was trying to tell.
People pay attention when they can see or can sense that a speaker or a writer is passionate about the topic. I am getting better at finishing story projects that I’m excited about, and pinpointing the places where I lost interest in a draft so I can return to the premise and rejigger to keep myself engaged. In the blog though…maybe it’s time to think about quantity vs. quality.