Talk Write — The Axiom, Part 1

Well, today is Monday and I’d like to begin with a bit of “housekeeping” as they say.  I’ve decided to change the name of this writing discussion feature of my blog from “Writing Talk” to “Talk Write.”  In English, anyway, Talk Write has a better ring to it and it sounds the same as Talk Right, meaning, speak appropriately or respectfullyTalk Right is a phrase you might likely hear in the “South” or southern United States where I live.

So today, I’d like to pass on an idea I encountered a few years ago and which I’ve thought about a great deal since.

He was a famous author who had written many books but, for the life of me, I cannot remember which author nor have I been able to find the article that contained the interview.  But I’m pretty certain it wasn’t Stephen King.  Anyway.  I don’t remember much about the article apart from this one axiom, asserted by the famous author.  He said:  “It takes ten years to master any skill and writing is no exception.”  At the time that I read that, I had been writing seriously for several years and had not finished anything in terms of a book.

Over those years, yes, my skill with language had improved (though I already had a bachelor degree in English to begin with).  And I had learned much about writing—such as how to write more efficient dialogue and scenery and how to use action and internal narrative to create flow in scenes and several other things of that sort.  But I still struggled with how to organize the complete story and that was primarily why I hadn’t, to that point, finished any of the many stories I’d started.

One of my manuscripts, at that time, was close to eighty-thousand words and I had a vague idea of how to end it.  But it didn’t feel right.  One thing I had sworn to myself was I would not publish a crappy first novel.  The reason for that being, I was afraid that a bad first novel would poison the water for any work that followed.  Now, I know that I could have published a crappy novel and probably no one would have ever read it.  Live and learn, right?  But still, I’m glad I waited until I had a book I felt really good about.

From here on, I’m going to try to keep these posts to a manageable reading length so I will continue this one tomorrow.  I have much more to say about the “ten year” axiom.  So until then—