L.A. Kennedy

Beyond the story

By L.A. Kennedy

When I first began writing, I didn’t think about what it meant to be a writer. I just wrote down my stories and thoughts. I think about it now, the purpose behind those thoughts and stories, and what it actually means to me. What does it mean to be a writer? For me, it is an outlet, one some may read and some may file their own “This is Shit” bucket. Either way, I’ve allowed myself the opportunity to see life differently, from multiple perspectives, entertaining views that I’d never consider before. It is a powerful way to move through emotions, to heal old hurts, to see the world through different eyes. It gives me reality in a way that I can swallow. Without the creativity, I’d probably choke on that reality. It shows me what I’m missing, what I neglect to see in the world, what I inadvertently ignore out there. It calms me. It makes me smile in ways only the written word can.

As writers, we’re told we must have thick skin, we must be fearless. This is sometimes nothing like who we really are or how we feel in reality. The more I write, the more I learn. Part of that learning is how to show me my gaps in my everyday reality and emotions. It connects me to the human experience. It points me toward where I can grow and where I need to become greater than I was yesterday. It lends me strength and empowers me to create change in my own life.

I’ve doubted myself, as many more have and still will. Some of my creative efforts have gone further than just a file on my laptop, while others have inevitably made their way to the “This is Shit” bucket. But even in rejection, I’ve learned, I’ve smiled, I’ve cursed.

What does writing mean to you?

What is means to be a writer, as told by the greats:

“I think there are two types of writers, the architects and the gardeners. The architects plan everything ahead of time, like an architect building a house. They know how many rooms are going to be in the house, what kind of roof they’re going to have, where the wires are going to run, what kind of plumbing there’s going to be. They have the whole thing designed and blueprinted out before they even nail the first board up. The gardeners dig a hole, drop in a seed and water it. They kind of know what seed it is; they know if they planted a fantasy seed or mystery seed or whatever. But as the plant comes up and they water it, they don’t know how many branches it’s going to have; they find out as it grows. And I’m much more a gardener than an architect.” – George R.R. Martin

“Anyone moderately familiar with the rigours of composition will not need to be told the story in detail; how he wrote and it seemed good; read and it seemed vile; corrected and tore up; cut out; put in; was in ecstasy; in despair; had his good nights and bad mornings; snatched at ideas and lost them; saw his book plain before him and it vanished; acted people’s parts as he ate; mouthed them as he walked; now cried; now laughed; vacillated between this style and that; now preferred the heroic and pompous; next the plain and simple; now the vales of Tempe; then the fields of Kent or Cornwall; and could not decide whether he was the divinest genius or the greatest fool in the world.” – Virginia Woolf, Orlando

“People on the outside think there’s something magical about writing, that you go up in the attic at midnight and cast the bones and come down in the morning with a story, but it isn’t like that. You sit in back of the typewriter and you work, and that’s all there is to it.” – Harlan Ellison

“As a writer you should not judge. You should understand.” – Ernest Hemingway

“A writer never has a vacation.  For a writer life consists of either writing or thinking about writing.” – Eugene Ionesco

“I write to give myself strength.  I write to be the characters that I am not.  I write to explore all the things I’m afraid of.” – Joss Whedon

“You pick the smallest manageable part of the big thing, and you work off the resonance.” – Richard Price

“[The young writer] must train himself in ruthless intolerance. That is, to throw away anything that is false no matter how much he might love that page or that paragraph.” – William Faulkner

“Prose is architecture, not interior decoration.” – Ernest Hemingway

“Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere. Start by getting something—anything—down on paper. A friend of mine says that the first draft is the down draft—you just get it down. The second draft is the up draft—you fix it up. You try to say what you have to say more accurately. And the third draft is the dental draft, where you check every tooth, to see if it’s loose or cramped or decayed, or even, God help us, healthy.” – Anne Lamott

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