Je ne regrette rien

The Constant Student

Posted in Uncategorized by Amy on January 16, 2009

constantstudentOne of the benefits of being a writer, in my humble opinion, is that you are a constant student. Whether it is learning new technical aspects to add to what you create, research for the story behind the story, or studying marketing and business plans – there is so much more to writing than simply sitting in front of the computer and allowing your muse to take control.  I am not sure that I have ever met a writer that doesn’t think that they can improve on something, whether it is developing a stronger voice, learning to be more descriptive, better character development, or the infamous showing vs telling.  I like the challenge that I give to myself to improve and even more, I love looking back at things that I have written five or ten years ago, and seeing exactly how much my writing has improved. Just with anything, the more you do it, the better you get, which is why I am a big believer if blogging, as long as you treat it as a writing exercise and not a substitute to get real writing done.

Right now, I am in another student phase, which really holds a dual purpose for me. As a writer, I am studying different writing styles and really paying attention to how different authors have layered their stories – from Hemingway and Updike to Dante and Homer – studying story development, rather in short or novel form or in the form of the epic poem, and paying attention to that author’s particular rhyme or reason. Additionally, I am entering the Honors English program this fall at the Universityof New Orleans, so it is nice to have a bit of an advantage going into the program, having already read and studied the required reading list. Like a boy scout, I like to always be prepared.

I am also studying The Norton Reader, which is a collection of essays written in various styles and about various topics. I picked up The Norton Reader at the library sale for $1.00 and it has proven to be an invaluable resource, particularly since I tend to write in first person, whether it be creative non-fiction, music interviews, or my  longer works. I highly suggest that all short story writers and creative non-fiction types try to pick up a copy of this book and read it from front to back and answer the questions that appear after every story. It studies the essay as a narrative, descriptive, exposition, and persuasive argument. Additionally, it goes deeper into comparison and contrast, analytics, definition, and classification. As a writer, I have learned so much from this book. As a reader, I have gained a whole new appreciation in reading some really, really wonderful essays.

Many of my fellow bloggers at a community called Xanga are creativing “100 lists” which contain 100 facts about the person that you are and the adventures you have had in life. In connection with everything that I am learning in studying The Norton Reader, I believe I am going to do this too, however I am going to write a narrative essay for each of my 100 things, telling the story behind the little facts about me. It is a good exercise in writing and developing a plethora of skills, from description and dialogue to point-of-view, and a nice way to record your history. 

It is necessary to write, if the days are not to slip emptily by.  How else, indeed, to clap the net over the butterfly of the moment?  For the moment passes, it is forgotten; the mood is gone; life itself is gone.  That is where the writer scores over his fellows:  he catches the changes of his mind on the hop.  ~Vita Sackville-West

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