I was told once that the best way to learn something is to teach it. So, here's what I'll do. I promised my critique group that I'd keep them posted as I read through Robert McKee's "Story." The book is aimed at screenwriters, but Lord help us, we're not that different. Stephen King said that your story will get you a lot farther than your writing ability. I have to agree, and apparently so does Mr. McKee. We often complain, as writers, that the market is just too flooded with manuscripts, nobody will ever see our work.
According to McKee, it just ain't so.
The reason that you see so many bad movies these days isn't because producers just don't care what they send out, it's because they have little choice in screenplays. Probably the same is true of publishers. If we work, and I do mean work, very hard at our craft and develop the best story we can, we will get published. It's not magic, it's work, work, work.
I posted a comment on Brandilyn's blog today concerning critique groups. While I'm involved with an excellent group now (chocolate chip cookies, girls, and fast!), I've been involved with some not so good groups. If your critique partner isn't willing to learn, accept criticism, and grow as a writer, then he or she is an anchor to your career as well. And that's how you have to think of it, as a career. Sure, you can have that other career, the one that's paying the bills right now, but if you don't consider writing as important as whatever it is that you spent a lifetime developing or four years in college learning, then you'd better be satisfied with writing for the fun of it (if anyone needs help with that run-on, I'll send the abridged version).
Okay, here's me: I'm an engineer with Visteon (soon to be Ford). I make very good money, I have a nice house, cars, a trailer that's way too long. Could I stay this course and retire comfortably? Sure. But, someday, I'd ask myself "what if?" And I don't want to ask myself that. "What if?" means that I've missed something, I've taken this one shot God gives us and not used the desires and talent He's given me. Yes, I have salvation and that alone is enough. Our talents, however, are gifts, and what a waste never to let them see the light of day.
So, what was I talking about? (Goldfish Moment). Oh yeah, Story. So I think I'll continue this blog with my insights from Story and, by the way, Stein on Writing, which I'm going through at the same time. I just finished reading the part on tension. Great stuff! Yes, Dineen, he goes on a bit, but the advice is excellent. I take notes and cut to the meat of the situation. Yes, I need a life. But that's what hard work is all about, isn't it?