Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Companion of Wisdom

Patience is a virtue, they always say. (They who? I don’t know. They them. Them they. Whoever that may be.) Is it? A virtue, I mean? Specifically for writers, I would say yes. For a writer to have patience is key to success. In what ways? In these:

Writing the first draft
In general, the first draft is crap. Most people will agree (except for those who polish as they go). So while you’re writing and you think, “This is crap”, you have to have patience. Good writing takes a long time to achieve. You need to push through the bad, and do so patiently, then get to the good.

The ending
I, for one, suck at endings. Maybe there are some others that have the same problem. I remember reading somewhere (I can’t remember where, sorry) that the ending is more often bad than the beginning, because people put enormous time and effort into thinking up the beginning, but only a few moments for the end. In other words, you have to have patience to think through your ending. Don’t rush to it. Don’t start running sloppy* just because you see the finish line (or is that finishing line?).

When you finished the first draft (which sucks; see first point), you want to revise it so it looks shiny. However, most people (contradict me if you disagree with this), say that you should wait a bit before revising it. Something about you not being objective and you reading it the way you intended it to look instead of the way it actually looks. Bottom line, you need to let it simmer before you can revise well. Thus, you need patience to let the draft cool down before working on it again.

Shipping your product
Last, and most obvious, don’t send your manuscript to potential publishers/agents/self-publish print places before it is ready. Revise and revise until you get everything right. Get beta readers and interrogate them until they tell you what’s wrong and revise. Ergo, have the patience to keep your baby (that would be your manuscript for those of you who are less metaphorically inclined) to yourself (and your beta readers, obviously) as long as it is not ready. Ship when it’s ready, but not before.

Patience is important. If you don’t have it, learn it. Grow a plant from its seed. It sort of teaches you that there are some things you can’t rush. (I stole that idea from C. Hope Clark)

Trivia : This post was inspired by standing in a queue. In the sun. In South Africa. (It’s as if we have our own, special, extra hot sun) Not so much fun. But it’s over now.

* I actually have no idea what it means to run sloppy. I’m not good at sport metaphors.

Patience? Yes? No? Anything you want to add? Feel free to comment.

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