Cate and I worked our second festival today. It was the Kaleidoscope Cultural Arts Festival in Kannapolis, North Carolina. Though we didn’t sell a lot, we still enjoyed it. We met a lot of folks, and had some very good conversations. One of those conversations led to two thoughts that go hand in hand. I would like to share them with you now.
The first of these, I think, should go without saying, but I’ve found more and more that people don’t do this as much as they should. That thing? Care about your art. It’s quite simple. Care about what you are doing. I used the term ‘art’ because, truthfully, writing is art, whether good or bad is up to the writer.
It’s like coloring within the lines when you were a kid. Think about it for a second. When I was a kid I was told over and over to try and stay within the lines while coloring pictures. I got to where I worked really hard at it because, well, first I got tired of hearing that I was doing it wrong (even if in my eyes I was doing it right), and second I wanted so bad to finally succeed at keeping all the colors within the picture with no blob over the line. I grew to care about coloring the way my teachers said to.
This is the way writing is. Though I would never say you need to write between the lines and follow all the rules, you should still care about the stories you tell, the characters you create, the settings you put them in, the details you give their lives, the situations they deal with, the solutions to those situations and which way their lives go or end. Those are important items that shouldn’t be neglected. By caring about the story, you pay attention to those details, and in doing so, you stay between the lines. [[For the record, I believe some rules no longer apply to writing done in this day and age. However, know them, because, though they can be broken, break them at the right times.]]
Here’s a truth: readers can usually tell when an author doesn’t care about the story they’ve told. And if you don’t care about your stories, why should they?
Point two: If you care about your craft, the person you are will shine through in your work. I’m not talking about the person you want the world to see. I’m talking about the real person on the inside. That person will shine through. It will shine through in your style. It will shine through in your voice. It will shine through in the words you choose or do not choose. It’s. Just. That. Simple.
Let me share a third point, and yes, I’m improvising here. If you love what you are doing you are going to care about it. If you are just doing it to make a buck, well, you might make some money, but you won’t tell great stories, things that stick with people years after they read it. You can write all you want, but caring about your stories will make more than a little difference in whether the readers care about your stories or not.
- Care about your craft.
- If you care, the person in you will shine through.
- Love what you are doing.
They are all connected. If you love, if you care, you will shine through. And if you love and if you care, the readers will know and they will love and care, as well.
Until we meet again, my friends, be kind to one another.