“You must want to enough. Enough to take all the rejections, enough to pay the price of disappointment and discouragement while you are learning. Like any other artist you must learn your craft—then you can add all the genius you like.” Phyllis A. Whitney
I love this quote by Phyllis A. Whitney. Her “Guide to Writing Fiction” was the very first book about writing that I ever bought. I’d been writing for a number of years, no doubt unaware that such books about writing even existed. I was pretty naive in the beginning, not to mention there wasn’t a whole lot of money in my budget for buying books way back then. Sometimes it’s difficult to justify spending money on something that seems like an impossible dream.
It was within the pages of Phyllis A.Whitney’s “Guide to Writing Fiction” that I learned the difference between showing and telling. For me, it was as if a light bulb had gone off. I instantly understood what it meant. I had heard the term “show don’t tell” before and intellectually I knew what it meant, but until I saw an example of it I really didn’t understand it fully. There were two wonderful paragraphs in the book that demonstrated the difference between a passage that tells and one that shows. I was in heaven!
I’m not a writer who owns a lot of books on writing, nor have I ever taken a writing course. I sometimes wonder if it’s not best to find one or two good books on writing and use them as your guide. The truth of it is, all the writing books in the world will not get us published. If we want to be published we must write, write, write, and as Phyllis A. Whitney said, “we must want it enough to take the disappointment and discouragement.”
Believe me, twenty-five years ago I wasn’t sure I’d ever have anything published. All I knew was that I had to try. Back then I could have told myself any number of things that would have stopped me in my tracks such as, I didn’t have the education, the vocabulary, or even a computer to write on, but I didn’t.
When you have that knowing in you, that this is what you were meant to do, it’s as if you throw all common sense out the window. If I listened to my common sense it might have told me I didn’t have what it takes to be a writer, but my heart said otherwise.
Did I know how hard rejection would be to take? Did I even know how long it would be until I learned enough about writing to have someone want to publish my work?
Of course not.
Back then I didn’t know if I’d ever have a single thing published. I don’t own a crystal ball. (Wish I did sometimes.)What I did know was that I didn’t want to look back one day, filled with deep regret, and wonder what it? Surely I owed myself that much. So while the most important lesson I learned in writing was the ”show don’t tell” rule I also discovered an important life lessons through writing.
“You must want it enough…”
For the writers out there: What do you feel was the most important lesson you have learned from writing?