Friday, March 24, 2006

Sunday Scribblings

"Any writer overwhelmingly honest about pleasing himself is almost sure to please others." - Marianne Moore

I have been thinking about writing a lot in the past few days. Having my book denied has created all kinds of interesting conversations - within myself and between myself and other people. My Dad read through the rejection material that the publisher sent (impersonal rejection letter and, as my Dad put it, information that was a 'crass solicitation to sell books' ) and he asked me this question:

"What degree of this line of work that you wish to be in is commercial versus creative?" Gulp.

That's a big question. It's a painful question that all artists must face. Do you change what you have written, alter the colours, write more gently? The artists and writers who resonate with us are the ones who shook things up, who were determined to write/draw/paint/say what they wanted. How many of them made a living from their work? What is most important? Is it selfish to want to say exactly what you want rather than what sells? Is writing for an audience the wrong thing to do?

What do you think?


On a slightly different note but along the same lines, I was reading M's blog and she got me thinking about how much I enjoy contributing to Poetry Thursday and how many other 'artistic' things there are out there to do - but there doesn't seem to be as many for writers (DUH! Every day is for writer's in Blog-land isn't it?! - Well, no, not exactly.) Would anyone be interested in getting writing prompts to do? Saturday and Sunday are very slow around the blogging world, so I was thinking about "Sunday Scribblings" I'd make a new blog site for it. Would anyone be interested in participating? They would be small prompts, just designed to stretch the writing muscles a little, pull us out of our regular writing and juice up the batteries - like the five minute timed things we used to do in Creative Writing class. Would anyone be interested??

"We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospection." - Anais Nin

P.S. I have just received my package for Race For Life (the 5k I am doing for Cancer Research - eek!) If anyone would like to sponsor me, you can go HERE.


Karen said...

It always absolutely brightens my day to read your blog. I usually have a babe on my lap so I can't write much, but your thoughts stay with me all day. As like now I have a baby on the floor that is wanting my attention, so I usually don't have any profound comments to offer, but I want you to know that I absolutely love reading your words, and you are a fabulous writer. Love to you and the boy. xoxo p. eye

M said...

I'm so in!! I don't have a computer at home yet, but will find a way to doing some Scribblings regardless!Great Idea! And about your question of what I'd do...I'm not sure. I believe in compromise, but not sacraficing the essence of who I am or what I am writing. What do you want it to mean to you?

Colleen said...

Hi Meg,
I second Karen's words. Reading your blog is a daily ritual for me too. Right now my little one is accross the hall in her crib calling me. I'm not much of a writer but reading your blog makes me proud to have a friend who is a great one. Don't worry about your book. It will happen for you when the time is right and your book finds a place that will treat it with respect. Just keep on being you girl! Great things always happen when you least expect them.

Jamie said...

Congratulations on starting Sunday Scribblings! It's so cool to see something new take shape.

And re the creative/commercial question, my experience in this area was in theatre. It never really occurred to me to go out there and get commercial with my acting or directing. Instead I formed a theatre company and we created what we wanted to create. Financially our big achievement was running in the black. We never took home a paycheque. But we explored lots of interesting ideas, put on work we believed in, created moments worth remembering and had a lot of fun in the mix. If I was to do another show, I'd do it this way again. For me the joy is in creating something and sharing it.

chest of drawers said...

Stay who you are Meg! I remember giving in to pressure and making some ridiculous angel plaques for a craft fair which I hated but knew people would buy. I cringed inside whenever anyone bought one and I couldn´t enjoy the money I earned with them. What do you say when someone says"ooohhh, that´s lovely! Did you make it?" about something that you don´t like? A book is even more personal and I believe that you must "be" the book or you won´t be able to revel in the attention it gets.

tara dawn said...

Sunday Scribblings...absolutely, count me in! I am always eager for new things to expand my writing and enrich my creativity. What a wonderful idea!
And how true your father's comment...who is this audience for which we write? Is it ourselves, or something much larger? How do we prevent ourselves from selling ourselves, and simply stand strong in the convictions of our honest words? A lot to think about here...I am sure I will write more to you about this at some later point.
Love and hugs,
Tara Dawn

la vie en rose said...

i'd be interested! in fact i was thinking about asking this same question some time ago and thought, one would be interested. but hey, it looks like some people are interested!!! and i've been wanting a writing group of some kind. this could be that group, a place to get encouragment and affirmation. count me in!

Living Part Deux said...

Your father's question is profound. I make my living through writing - but I can barely use the same word to describe what I do for money vs. what I do from my heart. It feels like different people are doing each. Write what is in your heart. Write what you must. Find other ways to augment income if you must, but keep writing truth.

I would LOVE to participate in your Saturday or Sunday Scribblings. Great idea. It would be fascinating to see how others approach the same topics from the perspective of differing lives.

Laini Taylor said...

Hi Meg -- first, yes, I'd be interested in Sunday scribblings! Even though I'm an artist AND writer, I find myself not really interested in participating in SPT and such, but would enjoy some writing exercises -- and possibly contributing some ideas, too!

Second, about the question of commercialization vs creativity, I really believe that you have to follow your own voice, and that's what will shine through the pile of writing submissions publishers get. There are kinds of publishing that specialize in overusing a formula, etc -- and they make big money, but I REALLY believe that the bulk of editors love books as much as we do, and want nothing more than to discover originality and exciting new voices. At conferences you hear that again and again: to strive for wholly original material. Some editors are looking for "Mary Potter" or whatever, but most would be happier to get something with great potential that completely stands apart. Resist all urges to follow trends, and always ask yourself what is most meaninful to you, what kinds of stories do you really want to tell -- and THAT will shine out!

Bohemian Girl said...

i LOVE the Sunday Scribbling idea. love it.

i get a sense that deep within you know the answer to your own question about whether or not to write for an audience or just write what you need to write for you.

think about Sabrina Ward Harrison and SARK. they started a revolution, didn't they? hmmmm....

love to you. xoxox

Kerstin said...

Megg, I think this is a brilliant idea and I would certainly be interested in participating. Maybe it is JUST what I need because I've been feeling so voiceless, in addition to suffering from my usual lack of confidence when it comes to writing in this second language of mine. I might never be as expressive and articulate as you are, it might never come quite as easy to me as it seems to you, or Rebekah, or Swirly, or some of the other bloggers whose style I admire. But you know what I am realising? That it is not about comparing myself to others but about enjoying what I feel passionate about: the written word. I might have to try a little harder than a native speaker but so what, I learn, I evolve, I have a voice, I use it. And this is why I love your "Sunday Scribbling" idea because I know it will challenge me and that is a good thing. So YES PLEASE.

Regarding your book rejection just think "J.K. Rowling" and the number of rejections she went through. Personally I don't care too much about books that are written to please an audience, especially those that use a certain formular because it sells, like Grisham whose early books I enjoyed but then they became too predictable and boring.

I can only speak from the point of the reader when I say that I much prefer books that are written from the heart. How do I know that they are written from the heart? I just do. And so do you.

Blue Dog said...

The way I see it, you're a real writer when you've been rejected and then keep on writing anyway.

Celebrate your rejection letter. It means you are a REAL WRITER!

As for "Sunday Scribblings," it sounds like a great idea. I could use the workout desperately.

your last paragraph...I think you answered your own question about who you should write for.

did you know that the average story is rejected 25 times before being accepted? yep, it's true. Gone With the Wind was rejected 20 times. C.S. Lewis sent out 800 manuscripts before he made a sale. F. Scott Fitzgerald was told, "You'd have a decent book if you'd get rid of that Gatsby character."

Keep writing Megg! Will you sign my copy when it gets published? :)

Laura said...

Ooo! Writer prompts.

I think that it depends on your approach. The market IS commercially-based, yet if you look around, you can usually find a publisher who wants what you want to write, or so I understand.

In many ways, I have it easier. The only art I want to publish or sell is my poetry...and I have no illusions about commercial success there. Writing poetry doesn't make you money. (Writing poetry, talking about it, and teaching workshops can, but I don't want to do the latter two, especially not the teaching.) So I've had to know from the beginning that however important this is to me, it will never be a paying job, or close to it.

For fiction and non-fiction...I think it can be, and that makes the whole question harder. Which aspect is more important, or can they be reconciled?

I don't know. Lots of questions, no answers....

andrea said...

I struggle with the creative/commercial conundrum every day. If you have any insights about it I'm sure you'll write beautifully about it here and share the wealth! I have been away and you have written so much! I hope to catch up soon...

Shannon E. said...

I am so sorry about the rejection hon. That is hard question to face and one I faced myself this week as well. Good luck in deciding.

I found you via Laini and Liz and would love to take part in the Sunday Scribblings. I am just kind of dry on the weekends as if my brain takes a break.

My blog is here...
Even though this is linked through blogger, you had to be a blogger to leave you a message so I used my blogger account via my school contacts.

aithbhreac said...

Hi, I am also visiting via Laini's link. I would be interested as well in Sunday Scribblings!