It's been six months since I got the phone call with the news I'd been dreading.
Lisa (LK Madigan, author of Flash Burnout and The Mermaid's Mirror) may be gone from my life, but not from my heart. After I lamented at her memorial service that I had not kept that many of her emails, her husband slipped me some she had kept from early in 2006, when we were just getting to know each other. At that time she hadn’t been published and didn’t even have an agent.
I would have to be presumptuous enough to class myself as a ‘good writer,’ when I have no verifiable evidence to that effect. But what the hell!! I’ll go ahead and own it. I FEEL like a good writer. But then I worry that maybe I’m like this character in a Wilkie Collins novel (“Hide and Seek”) who devoted his whole life and soul to ART ... studying it, suffering for it, painting like mad. The problem was - he just wasn’t very good. ...
Despite THINKING I’m a good writer ... maybe I’m deluded too...
Here’s my short answer: no, I don’t think good writing can be taught. I hate to get all New Age-y on you, because I am so NOT ... but real writers are born with ink in their veins. They wake up every day anticipating when they can sit down and read, read, read, as if books are food. Words are so important to writers that they THINK about words all the time, the way some people think about sex. They cringe when people use the wrong words. They also fantasize about their next date with The Muse ... mentally calculating hours and minutes when there will be time to spill their thoughts out on the page. AND they also don’t just wait for a convenient time for the Muse to strike ... they grabe and snatch and demand time to write, like greedy toddlers.
People can be taught to write in a clear, journalistic fashion, I believe. But the kind of writing that pours out like music - that can’t be taught.
Thus endeth today’s pomposity. We now return you to your regularly scheduled conversation.
I told Lisa that a lot of times writing for me is work, and that I don’t always long for it. But that I always enjoy having written.
I would love to be able to talk about books and writing with her again.