The first writing book I bought was Make Every Word Count by Gary Provost (Writer’s Digest 1980). I found it in a Coles Book Store. I don’t remember if there was an apostrophe in Coles. No matter, they were eaten up in the 1980s or 90s by another chain. The book still matters. Published by Writer’s Digest, a group I had not heard of at that time, it was magic. It was a book on WRITING and it wasn’t a text book. It talked to me like I was a real person and not a teenager with a blank book and the dream of writing a Regency Romance. I never did write that romance. I tried for years. I never finished. Things like senior prom and college got in my way.
I started writing again after college. I never finished anything. Career changes and more moves happened. I eventually joined a chapter of RWA (Romance Writers of America). I felt like a sham. Writing was the last thing I was doing. I was working two jobs so we could make the mortgage payments while I was seeking full time work. At one point I read everything I wrote, decided I was using writing in lieu of therapy and shredded it all. That was the most freeing thing I have ever done. All those partial novels, single scenes, unplanned and contrived half-written stories that nagged me to finish were gone. I gave up trying to write romances.
Again, writing fell by the wayside while we moved. In a new location, with a meager library, I started to write after I read everything that interested me. They had a very small Science Fiction and Fantasy collection, and fewer Horrror books. After reading one book, I remember thinking that I wished I could write as well as that author. After another book by a different author, I thought, if that writer could be published, so could I. So I thought about it. I started writing the type of story I like to read. Between doing other things, and two more moves, I kept writing. I discovered Speculative Fiction as my genre. Write what you know and I know weird.
Through the years, I bought other writing books. I discovered who those Writer’s Digest people were as well as their magazine and website. I discovered conferences, on-line workshops and blogs. The writing world, or to better name it, the literary world, is a big place. It keeps growing, with GoodReads, WordPress, Twitter and etc. But let’s not lose sight of the main thing. The story. It should be all about the story. While you tell that story, remember the late Gary Provost’s advise: “Eschew verbosity…Writing gets more interesting as it acquires precision, not length.”