Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Lately, I have had several people e-mail me and ask what it takes to become a writer. I always answer that everyone longs to be heard, but someone who is truly a writer, feels she/he must be heard. It's not an "ego" thing, because I think it means those of us who write, tend to be people who care. What do I care about? In no particular order--the environment, world peace(and the strong belief we can get there!),ending abuse against everyone, especially women and children, full rights for us LGBT persons, protecting and helping to better the lives of animals, religious freedom and inclusion for everyone, promoting the arts(especially the written word, and theatre), achieving a sense of inner calm, and maintaining relationships with family, and those I call my "extended family"--friends who've "been here" for me, for many years...
One person who I've named before, is my fabulous "2nd-cousin"(my Mom's first-cousin, therefore second in relation to me; she is never "second" to anyone!), teacher, and all-around fun gal, Gigi Chiboucas.
Cuz Gigi took me on a tour of the L.A. area when I first visited her, waaaay back in the early 1990's. She read at my wedding(and did some Greek dancing!),coaches and teaches gifted young people in southern California, and she has often mentioned how proud she is, how honored she feels, to be teaching these young men and women who hold within them, such promise--such literary promise! So I want to give a shout-out to Hazel Flores, and John Barrios, just two of the exceptional students Gigi has mentioned.
What does it take to be a successful writer? In my opinion:
*Tenacity, the ability to follow-through(be prompt--unfortunately, procrastination is a common trait, as we all tend to get so involved in so many projects at once, we often don't FINISH one, before beginning another! Learn to "seal the deal", and finish!)
* Strong work ethic (write EVERY day.Don't wait for "inspiration". The inspiration comes from the ACT of doing the writing. More writing, leads to more writing. And some of it--eventually--will be very, very good.)
* Marketing skills (some writers will say this is unnecessary, that creativity and marketing/salesmanship don't go together, but I strongly disagree. If you're creative enough to feel you must be heard, and you can write, then you can create a way to get your words out there. So go on, Blog. Design flyers. Attend-- and read your words-- at Open-Mics. etc, etc...)
* Network with other writers. Do this not only for the "marketing", but for the camaraderie. Writing is a very solitary pursuit. And we are all social creatures. So get out there, and LISTEN to others. Hearing great writing, inspires great writing of your own.
* READ. It's obvious, but bears mentioning--if you don't read--and by read, I mean the classics, and the modern classics, and the most contemporary fiction/poetry/plays, you won't be able to write.
For example, I read Shakespeare, E.A.Poe, Emily Dickinson, Edna St. Vincent-Millay. I also read Faulkner, Tennessee Williams, Nikki Giovanni, Chrystos, Sylvia Plath. And David Mamet, Sherman Alexi, Isabel Allende, Cherryl Floyd-Miller, Mike Dockins, Cecilia Woloch, Collin Kelley.
(Please note: Links to the last two writers listed can be found to the left of this entry, in my list of Blog links).
Now, click off here, and go do your own writing! Peace, kids.


Collin said...

Thanks for the shout out, L. All good advice.

Lisa Allender said...

Thank, Coll...I am letting my cuz, Gigi, know your "After The Poison" is available to order--she's letting her students know about my Blog...I'm certain they'll be interested in your work(these kids are very politically/socially savvy, says Gigi)

KATE EVANS said...

This is great. I sure hope I get to meet you some day. You're an inspiration.

Selma said...

Excellent advice. 'The only way to write is to write.' I think Mark Twain said that. It's something that keeps me motivated. I am also a big believer in reading as much as you can. I went to a creative writing workshop recently and was surprised by how many people admitted to not reading at all. It shocked me. How can you improve your craft if you don't read? And why would you want to be a writer in the first place if you don't read? Very perplexing.

Lisa Allender said...

Thank You, Kate. P'shaw(she digs toe in sand), you make me blush(nice to know I still can!).
Thank you for your kindness.
Selma, cute Mark Twain quote...and yeah,I'm with ya--who wants to write, who doesn't READ??!