...Or at least that's what a lot of the 'How To' books would have you believe.
I read in the blurb of one such book that 'anyone who can write a
letter can write a Novel.' But after looking at the ever-increasing pile of
rejection notifications and 'one star' reviews I
think most wannabe writers could be forgiven for being little sceptical
of this advice.
Writing is a craft, and crafts can be learned and mastered. So in one real sense
anyone could become a writer, that isn't a lie. But I don't think it necessarily
means that anyone who can compose a decent letter can write a Novel.
It's like saying anyone who can drive a car could become a top formula 1 racing
driver. Maybe in theory they could, but unless they have the drive, not to
mention nerves of steel, they won't get far in practice...
...And to become good at writing you do need to put in a lot of
practice. Not forgetting about that drive, determination, courage, and most of
all sheer bloody-mindedness, not to mention a healthy imagination and disregard
for pesky reality - so I won't.
The craft is learning the tricks that help you put the words together
in the right way so as to form a readable story. But good writing skills alone
don't make a good story. That's where that active imagination kicks in. And
when you finally hone your masterpiece to perfection you have to put it out to
a ruthless and unfair industry, which will probably promptly return it with a
bog-standard 'Thanks, but no thanks' letter. Even worse when you finally get
something, anything, published you then start to read the reviews...
Someone loved it, you swell with pride... someone loathed it and said bad
things... you feel fit to burst with anger... But that's only the first few
times, after that you just shrug ether way and carry on writing.
And I think that's the thing than makes a writer. You need the will, no
the urge, to carry on regardless. I think there are many writers who have never
been published in any form who are simple people who want and need to write.
You will come across people who refer to themselves as 'published authors' and
that's ok. I can see why some see it as a form of validation or verification of
their ability, a sort of prize for all the effort. Of course the big names are
well beyond referring to themselves as 'published,' and the beginners, or those
who have never been graced by the publishers, don't want to refer to themselves
a 'writer' for fear of the dreaded questions 'What have you written? Anything
I've heard of?'
So to sum up I'd say no, not anybody can become a writer. Not because of
some innate ability, or the lack there of, but simply because those who want to
write will write, regardless of the rewards or lack there of. And anyone who
simply sees writing, especially fictional Novel writing, as a means to an
ends has a very hard uphill struggle. Because, as well as becoming technically
good enough, they have to provide the imagination, a lot of time and hard work,
and then battle their way through a saturated and antiquated industry. Who
would choose that if they weren’t already pre-wired to write?
Now I'm not an expert, I'm on the bottom rung and am likely to stay there or
there about, for the foreseeable future if not the rest of my life. I don't
know if I have the talent to go further. Then again who does? Talent often
seems to be bestowed upon people as much as anything else. But I have read the
stories of those lucky few that have made it, and for someone wishing to follow
in their footsteps some biographies make grim reading.
But, hay... That's just me. Do you still believe the hype? Do you think
anyone can become a writer?