A Rambling Treatise on The Craft

Originally, I submitted for class discussion introductions, and I thought I’d like to have this on my blog too.

            Fiction is devoted to exploring the complex drama of human experiences. The writer’s canvas is the human psyche, and we, the wordsmiths—creative writers, microscope the human condition; our job, first-and-foremost, is probing the everyday reality of human situations, regardless of how weird or superfluous, or sad, or hilarious, or frightening. I write to touch my readers’ hearts by writing truth.

            My process is simple: I wrestle, before coffee, every morning to deposit onto the page, at a minimum, six-hundred words of prose, and, at some point in the day, I read fiction for a minimum of an hour a day—I do this five days a week. Creativity, I believe, is a muscle, and, like all muscles, routine exercise builds strength. Now, I confess, inspiration does not often come easy; prompt books are helpful when my creativity sleeps past the alarm. The most important thing a writer can do is write, but the second most important thing a writer must do is read. I read seventy-five, or more, books a year. The six-hundred words every morning, before my kids wake up, helps warm up my creative process; usually, once Scrivener, my software of choice, flashes the green check mark, which indicates I met my goal, I find myself unwilling to stop.

My Hogwarts Pride

            I write both literary fiction and poetry, but my preference, my passion, my ambition, my purpose is writing prose—fiction. Like all art, the artist, in my case the writer, tattoos themself into their work. All good writing comes from writing what we know, and my truth, the nucleus of my identity is my Christian faith. However, I rarely write anything perceived as Christian, but rather my work, my characters and themes, wrestle with spirituality and ethical dilemmas—a footprint or commentary regarding my own wrestling with God. I embed this insight in nearly all of my work: truth is rarely, if ever, black-and-white, because a character’s circumstances are the brushes that paint their lives. I fancy myself a modern apprentice of Stephen Crane and Victor Hugo; albeit, my style mirrors Madeline Miller and Bernard Cornwell—I write tight.

            I fear, after probing and articulating the human condition, my writing will go unread. My heart is in my work, and, like many of you reading this, I fear rejection; and I accept this fear may never go away; I cringe when rejection letters hit my inbox. However, my confidence holds firm, because without rejections, I would have never learned and ultimately published, and I would have gone on wondering if I was living a pipedream—my head stuck in the clouds.

            Despite personal challenges, my obsession with routine writing and reading has provided me the tools to be good at theme and tension. I love paralleling themes with the physical world in my stories and with my characters’ situations—layering. Nothing arouses me more than when a reader, as if hoodwinked by a magician, thinks I have talent. The trick to writing well, I have found, is to make it easy for your reader to turn the page. My greatest strength in writing is my eye for the reader. 

            Writing is life.

—W. Alexander  

When Creativity Is Exhausted

Truly, I tell you, you can easily spend a whole-life feeling behind everyone else or below their expectations, or you can embrace who you are and accept your whole self and not just what others accept about you.

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