Are Writers Control Freaks?

Control.

Is it why we write?

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Think about it. The worlds we create are entirely at the mercy of our every whim. If we don’t like the way a character is shaping up, or the direction a story is going, we can change it. If the ending doesn’t suit our fancy, we can mold it until it does.

Even the process of writing is an act of control, down to our very methods. Whether we’re pansters or plotters, we usually do it the same way every time. No matter how disorganized it may seem to others, we each have our specific formula for creating that works for us.

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So, does that mean writers are control freaks?

For a time, maybe. But that’s only because in a short while, after we’ve finished our creations — or when we choose to walk away from them because they’re never truly finished — we’ll give up that warm, fuzzy, comforting sense of control and exchange it for the cold, distant, angsty feeling of uncertainty.

We know, ultimately, it’s coming, that moment when we are going to have to let go, watch our creation fly from the nest, and wonder if, where ever it has landed, people will see the beauty and potential in it as we do. It’s a heart-shredding feeling. It’s an exciting feeling. I like to compare it to the beach, because…beaches.

Sending your work off is like going to the beach.

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Putting our work into the hands of others is like walking off the shore and into the water. The waves of emotion are strong sometimes. Especially when things actually start happening. The possibility of our dream is within reach and the waves grow stronger, switching from excitement to dread and back again. I’ve found I can’t linger in this wake for too long or it will pull me under and own me. I’m learning it’s best to feel the power of the wave for a moment, then get back on the shore, and start building another sand castle. Though, despite what I’ve learned, I still put my toes back in the water, sometimes. Thankfully, I have friends on the beach that keep waving me back onto the shore. That was a really long metaphor, but you get the point.

Whether you’re on the shore or you just dove into the water, you know all too well the process is a mix of emotions. Which is precisely why we do it. Are we control freaks? Maybe, a little, but it’s only to balance out the experience. Because, after all, we are telling our own stories, and in the end, a well-balanced plot is what it’s all about.

Is Writing Success A Fluke?

“A fluke is one of the most abundant fish in the ocean. So if you go fishing often enough, your bound to catch a fluke at some point.” 

I’ve recently developed a love for The Office. I know. I’m a decade late, but better late than never, right? In one of the later episodes, Dunder Mifflin competes in a trivia night. To the surprise of everyone at the office, the not-so-bright Kevin scores the winning point and $1000.00 to help the company meet their quarterly goal.

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Oh, Kevin.

And then he says something that blows my mind. He says, “Some people might say that tonight was just a fluke. But I want to leave you with this piece of trivia. A fluke is one of the most abundant fish in the ocean. So if you go fishing often enough, your bound to catch a fluke at some point.”

Flukes. Beautiful beasts, aren’t they.

So, what am I getting at here? Am I suggesting that publishing success is purely luck. That talent, and a good story, and skillful prose has nothing to do with getting the attention of agents, editors and publishers?

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Uhhh…no.

There’s a certain amount of good fortune needed to get noticed. You need to catch the attention of the RIGHT agent, at the RIGHT time. Sometimes your story hits them on a personal level at just the right time in their lives. Maybe they have a craving for a Romance with robots or a Thriller with farmers, and at that very moment, your MS passes over their desk. But even then, if it isn’t skillfully written, if it hasn’t been combed over repeatedly and fine tuned, if it lacks depth and passion, well, you probably won’t be having fluke for dinner.

Writing is composed of writer guts — all of them, all the organs, just splayed out on paper, stress induced hernias from squeezing out all the passionate words, (this is getting really gross), the author’s soul, and Adamantium-reinforced determination.

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So, this writing thing, it’s not up to luck. It’s not like playing the lottery. Yes, there’s a certain amount of right time/right place involved, but essentially, it comes down to honing your craft, getting better, the best you can make it, and trying. Over. And over. And over. Keep putting that line out there, and eventually, you’ll catch yourself a nice fluke.