Thursday, January 29, 2009

Happy Birthday Me

I'm probably like every other writer who reads this ... I've been writing my whole life, since grade school. I can't even tell you how many books I've started, or stories I've written over the years. Maybe 50? Maybe 75? And I've finished I think 5 or 6 full-length novels, from the giddy-up to the get-go.

But I'm still surprised--and, yes, even giddy--about how much there is to learn. 

I'd like to think I've entered a period of rapid evolution over the past, say, 18 months. In this compressed, intense period, I've learned more about my craft, more about writing, than the previous 20 years. It hasn't been easy -- some of the stages have really sucked, in fact. The hardest part was checking my own ego. There probably isn't a delicate way to say it, but I've always known I was a good writer ... until I found out not so much. Until I found out that I had the potential to be a good writer, but I wasn't there yet. My control was poor. And you can't substitute gut with glib and get away with it for too long.

I realize now how very far I still have to travel before I become as good as I want to be. Still, I think the greatest gift any writer can give themselves—maybe any person—is to be open to new information, to be humble in the face of adversity. I've had a few key people help me over these past 18 months ... they know who they are ... and I'm so grateful to them. But it's also true that the heavy lifting has to come from within. 



spyscribbler said...

Happy Birthday, Jon! I totally relate! It thrills me to no end that it never really gets easier, that every time I go "up a level," there's a whole new world of stuff to think about, a whole new world of ways to look at story, and a whole new perspective on writing.

This whole writing deal is really a blast, even when I'm tearing my hair out or driving myself mad. Every single day, I'm grateful I get to do it.

Erica Orloff said...

Happy Birthday, Monkey Man.

It's been amazing being a tiny part of the journey. It's been amazing having you in my writerly and life journey.

L.C. Gant said...

Happy birthday! You're so right about learning and writing. I'm going through that humbling process as well right now! It stings sometimes, but it's so necessary. Very well said. I wish you many more years of wonderful writerly insight!

Mark Terry said...

Happy Birthday! And I hesitate to say it, but in a lot of ways it just plain gets harder. I think I've gotten to a point in my writing where I've leveled off and in order to improve beyond it I have to really put some energy into it--and it's hard!

So good luck.

LurkerMonkey said...


Me too. Also incredibly grateful ... I just can't imagine another path as satisfying as this one.

LurkerMonkey said...


You are one of my people. Of course. Thanks.
I hope I can repay the favor ...

LurkerMonkey said...


Stings is right. That first criticism that really sinks home is a bit like a barbed hook ... but I guess growing always hurts.

LurkerMonkey said...

Mark said:

"And I hesitate to say it, but in a lot of ways it just plain gets harder."

This is a question I've wondered about many, many times. I've also wondered about "leveling off," as you said. I think there are plenty of examples of best-selling writers who have essentially leveled off. Who have perfected a template and just write to it again and again. I wouldn't want to be one of them necessarily, because I enjoy learning so much, but then again ... it's probably hard to know how we'd react until we were there.

A side note: I'm not a Grisham fan, but I've got to give the guy some props for stretching himself after his incredibly string of legal thrillers.

Jude Hardin said...

Happy birthday, Jon.

My new mantra: If you think you're above average, then you haven't set the bar high enough.

Zoe Winters said...

Happy Birthday. Don't eat too much cake and don't eat the yellow snow.