- Nadia Cornier
I’M A WINNER!
In my lifetime, I’ve written at least four novels. They aren’t good. They aren’t publishable. But I did it. I have written them. And each time I wrote them I learned something.
Now I’m still working on the same novel going on three years. This one I am polishing up and submitting to crit groups and I am going to try to sell it.
Don’t give up. Keep writing. I don’t need to tell you that, though. If you’re a “real” writer, you will write whether you sell anything or not. It’s just a matter of how much you write, how often you write, and whether or not you’re willing to put yourself out there for criticism.
Today I am wallowing in frustration. Where did I get the idea that I could write? Where did I get the idea that this was even something I wanted to do? And why do I keep doing it?
You are either born to this or you are not. I haven’t decided yet if I am born to it or I am a glutton for punishment. I am so frustrated with my abilities! I feel so limited by my finite mind.
I am STILL revising the first stinking chapter of my novel and it’s STILL not right. I know this because I belong to a critique group. I belong to the group so I can put my bad writing out there and learn.
Still, it’s frustrating to keep getting it wrong. I am impatient. I want it to be right because I am getting fed up with this story.
And I am thinking that Stephen King doesn’t have to rewrite 50 times before he gets it right. I’m thinking that he is brilliant enough to get it right after 1 -3 tries. And here I am, in my limited talent, still trying to make it work.
Am I fooling myself? Can I really write? Or am I just another one of those wanna-b’s that shows up to writer’s conferences year after year never selling one single jot or tittle?
I still have my freelance writing. I am better at writing nonfiction than fiction. But that’s just the thing, isn’t it? Where is the real art in writing nonfiction? And where is the mystery and the adventure? For me, it’s in writing fiction. For me, it’s weaving tales that take people places they would never otherwise go. For me, it’s taking MYSELF on journeys that I can only go on in my mind!
I need a plan, I suppose, for how to bounce myself back when I get bad feedback. It’s not that I don’t want it — I do! I want to know with all my heart what I’m doing wrong! I want to learn this thing. I want to conquer it. (I plan on writing more about this later.)
How about you? Are you obsessed enough with your writing career to stick with it? Or are you just another one of those people who go to writing conferences their entire lives but never sell a word? Or are you determined enough to put your butt in the chair and keep it there until you sell?
All writers know this. Every word counts. Every word is chosen and carefully placed by the writer. Some of us love our words so much that cutting them is painful. But today, I learned yet another lesson about words.
I wrote the Christmas play this year for our church as I usually do. I have a background in music theater and it’s just a natural thing for me to do and there is no one else to do it. It saves the church money because they don’t have to buy scripts. Besides all that, I enjoy doing it.
I was confronted today by someone who let me know that someone else was upset about something I wrote.
There is a line in the play that says, “A lot of people get confused at Christmas because when our nation was just beginning, people brought customs with them from other lands. Santa was someone people made up to remember Saint Nicholas, a very kind man who used to leave money in the stockings of young girls who didn’t have enough money to get married.”
One of the Moms was upset because she thought I was going to stand up and announce that Santa isn’t real.
I have my own opinions about Santa. I never told my children he was alive and real and bringing them gifts because I didn’t want to lie to my children. I was afraid that if I told them there was a Santa, and they found out it wasn’t true, that they wouldn’t believe there really is a God and that Jesus came and died for them. Right or wrong, that’s how what I’ve always believed. (I realize that not all Christians agree with me about this.)
However, this Mom who is upset is a new believer, and Santa is a huge part of their holiday. Her son actually came up to me today while I was playing the offertory at church and said, “Are you going to read that part in the play that says Santa isn’t real?”
Now, you and I both know, that wasn’t exactly what I wrote. But it was what I meant. The play is about different Christmas symbols and what they mean, where they came from, etc. People are no longer ignorant. Pagans laugh at Christians because we have adopted so many of their rituals as part of our holiday celebrations. I want children and their parents to know the difference. It’s part of my husband’s ministry (he is the pastor) — to teach TRUTH and stand by it.
But I did understand this mother’s dilemma. I do have Santa come in at the end of the play and bow at the manger. I want that picture to be in the minds of the children in the play. I want it to send a strong message that Christians celebrate Christmas for no other reason than Christ’s birth. (Or, should I say, that’s what we are supposed to be doing. We all know that things have gotten way off course where Christmas is concerned.)
If I didn’t live in this culture, if I weren’t planted where I am planted, personally I would do away with Christmas trees and Santa and all of it. But I am part of an American culture, and I have families who are baby Christians, and to “throw the baby Jesus out with the bathwater” so to speak, would be foolish.
I need to be wise. Sure, I felt attacked a little bit as a writer. But, I took a look at that line and I changed the wording this way: instead of saying, “Santa was somebody people made up to remember” I wrote, “Santa reminds us of.”
It’s pretty much the same meaning, but gentler. A child may not catch what it says. But adults will get it. And when Santa bows at the manger, the kids will get it, too.
As a writer, I need to be as “wise as a serpent but as harmless as a dove” (Matt. 10:16). However, I still need to write the truth, and I need to make sure I’m not being a sell-out. Sure, it was painful to be confronted this way, but in another way I was rejoicing. My words had made someone think! My words had MEANING.
Isn’t that why we write? To change people’s lives in some way? To make them feel things, think things, see things in ways they never had before?
I am excited. Maybe I have more drama ahead in regard to this play because it challenges some of our customs. But that will be okay with me because I am learning. I am a work in progress. And I am glad to learn to make every word count. Words are important.
What do you think? Are you willing to change your words to make them more palatable? Or do you think that’s being a sell-out?