Saturday, April 9, 2016

Growth: A-Z Challenge

My themes for this year’s A-Z challenge are writing, the writer’s life, and living in the creative flow.

I think it’s important to always think of yourself as “still learning” and growing toward being better.

Even if you are considered by many to be highly skilled, or “top of your field” there are always new angles, new perspectives, and variations on your themes that can deepen understanding and meaning.

Plus, it doesn’t matter how much you think you already know—someone else will always know more.

Being open to new and conflicting ideas that differ from yours can help ensure you maintain a growth mindset.

I teach writing in an MFA program and thus, I’m surrounded by much of the capital L literature. Most of my students want to write capital L literature.

I love and appreciate these types of books. My bookcase is filled with them.

I happen to also love and appreciate a ton of commercial books. My bookcase is filled with them.

I have, on many occasions, tried to encourage writers of all stripes to read wide and deep many, many different sorts of books. By my mind, there is much to be learned about language, imagery, and depth of character and themes from literary work. In turn, commercial fiction offers an unequalled education in pacing, plot, and developing a tight and interesting story that will keep your readers begging for more.

My favorite books, of course, walk that space between these two places. They are those fantastic books with literary caliber writing that deliver a story I simply cannot put down.

Some writers agree with this thinking. 
But I have found, by in large, that the merits of commercial fiction can be a tough sell to the strict literati.

And vice versa I should add.

I suppose that’s fine for the straight up reader. You love what you love after all.

But for the creation of books? I feel strongly that you are seriously limiting your growth as a writer if you are only ever reading your one thing.

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