Every year, we make tons of resolutions that vary across the entire spectrum of human behavior. Inspiring writers are no different. However, when it comes to writing the greatest American novel, making a wish is one thing, committed to achieving the masterpiece is quite another. It takes great creative writing skills to handle the task of keeping a story line together—from the punchy opening that hooks the reader and traps him head-on to that dramatic end that leaves him mesmerized, thirsty and ultimately hungry for the next thriller. How many times a person develops the idea of putting his life experiences to the task of writing a fictional manuscript? It is countless. And when he tells his friends, they all seem pleased about it. Whether they’re truly pleased or not, that is besides the point, for all that is really needed is the little white lie to boost the morale, to strengthen the will to back the words with deeds and to galvanize the kind of inspiration required to bring the project to bear.
The last time my best friend expressed his desire to go on a book project, most of his other educated friends, family members and well wishers were overly excited. He admitted to me that he was visibly moved by the amount of supports for the project, and that he was wondering if the support will still be there once his story is published. Then he quickly shrugged off the worry, for he realized if he could manage to maintain his discipline, the admiration will only be greater. And he was right. As he is now at the revision phase of his book and his query letter has already been accepted by one of the most prestigious university presses with a high prospect for publication, he could not be happier.
Writing is one of the most important skills among the skills of integration, and mastering it proves to be a thrilling sensation. But my friend has no such worry. He is an English professor, who has done extensive research in developing extra curricula activities designed to enhance the writing skills of disadvantage children in public education. His biggest challenge was the motivation to stay the course and the tedious task of editing not only for clarity, but also of making sure that the rules of engagement in novelistic prose are respected.
Of course, being a college professor who is accustomed to doing scientific research, writing a novel seems like putting frosty on top of a cheese cake. It seems so, right? But it is NOT so. Creative writing is a fine art that must be done with meticulous creativity; and when it’s done properly, it can warm the heart, uproot mountains, bring one to tears( tears of joy or pain) and—in many cases—turn timid souls to revolutionary fighting machines.
But if a project like this is NOT as easy as it would seem for a college professor, imagine what it would be for an average writer with a compelling story but with no perfect understanding of the rules of the game? I’m not trying to say that one has to have a degree of higher learning to conceive a classic oeuvre of literary exuberance. What I’m saying is that it takes impeccable discipline to achieve success. One does not write to win acceptance from those who are already his head-over-hill cheerleaders, one writes to win the hearts of any avid reader interested in the literary genre put forward. That’s how a meticulous author should interpret his role as a writer. The purpose of writing is to educate, whatever the subject matter happens to be. That’s why every book has its targeted audience. Lin Enger from Writers’ Digest Magazine wrote, “Novelists are distance runners, the long-haul truckers, the transoceanic captains of the literary world.” From those who write with unforeseen Manichaeism like Jacques Stephen Alexis, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Jacques Roumain, Pablo Neruda and others to those like Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clizio, Sheila Newman, Marie Vieux Chauvet whose romantic prose can only bring awe to one’s heart, their novelistic oeuvres transcend all form of natural beauty. As their prose interweave with the marvelous realism and the supernatural, they take the reader into an existentialist surrealism, like hitting the crossroad between Purgatory and Paradise. “Le roman est la conciliation de l’imaginaire et du réel. (The novel is the link between the imaginary and the real),” says Alexis.
So, if writing the greatest American or Caribbean novel is your quintessential resolution this year, be prepared to do these:
a. Have a schedule and stick to it no matter what.
b. Do not let a day go by without writing some lines.
c. Research the subject matter you’re writing on to avoid developing slack-offish behaviors. Procrastinating is a big no-no.
d. Have a self-imposed deadline. It doesn’t have to be a year. It must be realistic, achievable.
e. When the inspiration is really not there, do what Fred White says in WD: Go to an “internal pilgrimage.” Tease your inner self or self-brainstorming to find the vibe that will take you back to the path to success.
f. Do the best to participate in some creative writing workshops.
g. Belong to a book club if you can find the time. This is a great venue for sustained motivation.
h. Be relentless in the pursuit of the elusive prize of literary stardom. In the end, your work will stand out.
i. Last, but not least, always believe that you can and you will get to the finish line. Remember, you must be the number-one cheerleader of your own work.
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