Living with the Truth Stranger than Fiction This Is Not About What You Think Milligan and Murphy Making Sense

Monday, 7 April 2008

Confident writing



I know I said it would be normal service again today but bear with me.

There are a few things I could be good at in this life apart from being a writer but I don't think I'd make a good motivational speaker. For a writer I'm a pretty poor liar. I'm not saying that all motivational speakers are liars but these people need to exude confidence – they are using themselves as marketing materials ("Look at me – I'm all the proof you need!") – and I'm not that kind of guy. That doesn’t mean I don't have some decent advice to pass on (no one could look as world-weary as I do without having learned a thing or three) but I prefer to pass on my wise words of wisdom in more subdued surroundings.

Let me illustrate: a young girl once sidled up to me in between the filing cabinets at work (this is several jobs ago) and she asked me if I thought she should get married. My answer was, "I can't tell you if you should get married but I can tell you why I got married and you need to make your own mind up from there." I think she did get married and a few years later my own marriage fell to pieces. I still think the advice was good advice and I stand by it.

One of the sites I visit regularly is Confident Writing, the blog of Joanna Young, a freelance writer and writing coach living in Edinburgh. I have no idea how I ended up there but something kept me reading. Every now and then I'll pass a comment. Sometimes I'm a bit contrary, not to be difficult, but to provide perspective. I kept shtum for most of last month because her topic was 'inspiration' and I really don't think inspiration is anything fancier than a good idea; they're nice to have but if you don't have them, you get by without them.

This month she's moved onto 'power' and was looking for guest bloggers. The next thing I knew I had a couple of pages written and attached to an e-mail. The problem with a word like 'power' is that a lot of people get it mixed up with words like 'energy' and 'force' and so I thought I'd take a closer look at just what power is.

Everyone needs a bit of encouragement every now and then. The irony is I'm actually not very good at receiving it. I think the main reason for that is that I never got any for years and learned to live without out it; I'm nothing if not self-reliant. I could dig my heels in and say, "Sod it, I had to tough it out. Let them learn the hard way." I could, but the world is a very different place to the one I started writing in. I would have loved a bit of support at the start. I guess that's why I hang around Joanna's site, to pass on what I've learned. It is at the end of the day only one man's perspective but I might just say the one thing that someone out there needs to hear, the way they need to hear it. You never know.

You can read my take on it here: What is power? If it moves you then I'm pleased. If it motivates you then what can I say? More power to your elbow.


11 comments:

3POINT8 said...

I read your post on power in confidentwriting.com
When I read the first few paragraphs, I have the perception that power = the ability to influnce.
Then it gets abit more technical the more I read. I probably need to read that article a second time to grasp the your idea on power.

Jim Murdoch said...

What I'm trying to do with this article, 3POINT8, is get people to broaden how they look at a word like power. A lot of people treat it as if it is interchangeable with words like 'energy' and 'force' but it's not. There is technique to writing and what I was trying to do was use a scientific formula as a metaphor to show that writing is not magic. If you want your writing to have power then look at what power is, the result of work over a period of time. Work is not sitting thinking about what you're going to write, it's the physical act of writing, the old 10% inspiration, 90% perspiration perspective on success.

Shelly said...

I love to explore words like this, Jim. I'll be over to read your post at confidentwriting.com — power is an excellent word to dissect and think about carefully.

Jim Murdoch said...

Thanks for that, Shelly. I've always liked the idea of applying physical laws to abstract things like literature. It helps look at them in a different light.

Jenaisle said...

One of my pipe dreams is to be able to write a book, but I guess, it will only remain a "pipe dream" ( I am still hoping though...) Your site has lots of good information about writing and I linked your site to one of my sites - Random Thoughts. English is only my second language and I try hard to communicate my thoughts in English. My wish is that, I would be able to express myself in a free flowing manner, like you do. Happy blogging.

Jim Murdoch said...

Jenaisle, thanks for dropping by. I'm glad you liked the site. I have to say writing a novel was not one of my pipe dreams – I was quite content being a poet – and the next thing I knew I'd sat down and written one. I was in my thirties when that happened. So, don't give up hope yet. And as for English, most of us English-speakers have a tough time communicating in our mother tongue; I pity foreigners having to learn it.

Jenaisle said...

Thanks for the encouragement Jim. Yes I still did not let go of that dream. Even one book would do, before I die ...he he he...I just have to start somewhere. By the way, I hope you don't mind, I have linked to your site. Happy blogging.

Jim Murdoch said...

Jenaisle, thanks for the link and good luck with the writing. You know, sitting down knowing you're going to write a novel is intimidating. Just sit down and write and see where it takes you. My first novel began life as a long short story but that was the basic outline done. To that I just started grafting bits on here and there and the next thing you know (okay five years later) I had a novel.

Jena Isle said...

Yes, you are right...I have a long story which is yet unfinished...I guess...? The first part is actually posted in my blog The Clamor of Kslinga entitled (Umma Ayam Sinsana) If you would be kind enough to read and comment? perhaps..thanks ...happy blogging...

Jena Isle said...

rather : THE CLAMOR OF KALINGA. thanks.

Jim Murdoch said...

Thank you for that, Jena. I'll have a look at that when I've got a minute.

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