I plan to write a series on the writing process. By necessity this will be personal, detailing my own circuitous pathway leading away from scientific writing to a more popular style. I hope these posts will prove helpful for others who find in themselves a need (a compulsion?) for putting ideas down on paper. “Ink Slingers” arise!
The genesis for my wanting to write lies deeply buried in the past. I doubt that it comes as a Eureka moment for others; it certainly did not for me. I recall always enjoying writing themes in school, and I soon came to appreciate a few of my efforts and those of my classmates were better written and more interesting than others. This development of a critical attitude seems to be a necessity for writing.
I owe much to my H. S. English teacher who encouraged me to write. I also owe much to my mother who would have been an excellent writer had she not been such a dedicated wife and mother of four active children. These two women gave me permission (in the psychological sense) to take a few risks in my writing and try different approaches and styles.
At my undergraduate school, Texas Tech University, I enjoyed honors English. The advantages were smaller class size and excellent professors. Even though I was a science major (Zoology) and science minor (Chemistry). I loved my humanities courses, especially literature. Had it not been for my all consuming desire to become a physician, I likely would have majored in one of the humanities.
The posts to follow will describe the corruption of popular writing wreaked by scientific writing and furthermore how bloomin’ difficult it is to break these ingrained habits (passive voice, overly exacting verbiage, humorless and tortured phraseology, scientific jargon, and brevity to the extreme).
I will also share thoughts on the advantages and challenges of workshops, seminars, writing courses, and critique groups. Each had their impact on my writing, and as one of my former partners used to say, were all “good butt flattening exercises.”
Needless to say, once a book is conceptualized or even written, the real challenge comes in getting it published. My own experience in this journey through this forest of despair will be described- landmines, craters, heartbreak and all. And then the soaring elation of acceptance. I suppose if writing and publishing were easy, everyone would be doing it. Self-publishing nowadays does provide an outlet for everyone to publish but is this the best pathway?
I hope my own effort to learn popular writing (metaphors, similes, and alliteration really are acceptable in the English language) might prove helpful. Persistence can pay off or as the mock Latin phrase says, illegitimi non carborundum (translated: don’t let the bastards grind you down).
So “Ink Slingers” arise! Pick up those pens as they are said to be mightier than the sword.