"Always be yourself. Unless you can be a pirate, then be a pirate."
I’ve always been a reader, but now that I am a writer, I read in a different
way. Reading as a writer means you pay
attention to different things. You
aren’t just reading for a good story.
You read with an eye for detail which leads to a deeper appreciation and
understanding of craft. Reading as a writer
involves paying attention to how an author develops a character or plots such a
good story that you stay up way past your bedtime to find out how it ends.
I love pictures books. Always have,
always will. For the longest time, pictures
books were the only thing I wanted to write. Lately, I’ve felt a yearning to
attempt something longer, something more fully developed.
I have the beginnings of two middle grade novels but my progress on them has
stalled. I could blame my inertia on a
lack of time, but like my father always said, we all have 24 hours in a
day. If I’m really honest, what impedes
me most is myself. I find myself
comparing my writing to the writing of those writers that I admire, writers
that have been working on their craft for years.
I’m new to this writer’s life and I’m just beginning my journey into middle
grade waters. It’s not fair to
compare. I can’t write like them because
I am not them. I can only write like myself.
I know that I have a middle grade in me.
Perhaps, what I need to do now is embrace the pirate’s life.
You see, pirates weren’t afraid of the unknown. If they were, they never
would have sailed beyond the next horizon. The work was hard, the dangers many,
the rewards few - yet the men who became pirates did so because they loved the
adventure. They took pleasure in the journey and were spurred on by the promise
Being a pirate, though, was hard work. The bulk of one’s day involved doing
general maintenance on the ship - patching sails, splicing worn ropes, swabbing
the deck – tasks that needed to be done to ensure their vessel was
seaworthy. Quarters were cramped, food was
scarce and you put your life at risky daily. And for what? The mere possibility of reward.
Being a writer is a lot like being a pirate.
Like pirates, writers need to put aside their fear of the unknown. They must
work hard at their craft, weather rejection and compete for the much treasured
opportunity of having a book published. Are the odds any better for writers? No, but like all pirates know, the journey is
worth the effort.
So, me hearties, join me as I throw caution to the wind. Be brave. Be bold. Be yourself. But be a pirate too. Take the risk. Conquer your fear. Set out for the unknown. You never know what treasure the future might
hold. And oh, the adventures you might have along the way!