Friday, August 2, 2013

The Ghost in the Story

Two Kinds of Writers

In my opinion, that there are two kinds of writers: artists and entrepreneurs.

The latter excel at producing products readers like on time and up to snuff. They push all the right buttons. They're artistically talented, skilled smiths, masters of their craft, and they keep the wheels moving so there's always great new books on the shelves. Without them, our bookstores would be much smaller.

Then there's the artists. They're committed to their craft, learn what they must to get the story right, but their commitment isn't to publishers or readers per se:  it's to the story; the art. The story is real. Their job is to get it just right, and that takes however long it takes. Deadlines are vague reminders, and they'll starve if taking extra time means the story will be just right.

A Visitor in the Night

Much to my regret, I belong in the artist group. Why is that a regret? Well, for one it means even though I train a lot in the word-smithy, when I write, the story becomes something else. I get this visitor in the night who sits me down, straps me in place and tells me:

"Write the tale. I'll teach you what you need to know in the process. And I'm not leaving you alone until you get it right."

Being an artist at heart brings with it a grab-bag of undesirables: insanity, obsession, all-nighters, despair, joy, excitement, and the giant roller-coaster they're stationed on. Plans go out the window, replaced by better plans. Surprises lurk around every corner; the outline and production methods just keep me on track. I only write one draft, but it evolves, one cell, two cells, then soon a tyrannosaurus that terrorizes me until its extinction through revision. By the time the polished draft takes wing, I'm not the same person as a result of writing it.

What Kind of Writer Are You?

I've always wondered if its just me. Am I doing something wrong? Or is this a normal experience for a writer?

If you're a writer, I'd love to hear from you! Please tell me about your experience with a story, and where you think you fit: artist, entrepreneur, or a bit of both.

Graeme Brown is a Winnipeg fantasy author and junior editor for Champagne Books. His first story, The Pact is now available. He is a frequent blogger and a tweeter, and a third year math student.


Julie Eberhart Painter said...

I'm the artist. That's proven by my being so ooold. Sigh.

TK Toppin said...

I am the artist as well...figuratively and literally.

Browng34 said...

Hi Julie and TK - wohoo! I'm in good company so far

(nothing against the entrepreneurs - I admire and sort of envy them)

Unknown said...

I'm an artist, but I have to say, I'm trying pretty hard to learn the entrepreneur role as well.

My husband recently lost his job, and those bills have got to be paid. So lately, I've been pushing myself to access the practical side of my writer self.

I guess we'll see how that goes. :)

Anonymous said...

I've always thought of myself as a story-teller. Whether or not that makes me an artist is anyone's guess. But I hate the promo side of writing, even though I've learned to do it, I still hate it. Jane Toombs

Anonymous said...

I'm with JT which means I lean toward the artist side. The stories are there, flashing in my brain, the scenes and words echoing across my skull. If I didn't write they'd still be there. So, I definitely don't write for the business end rather to get the fictional world out of my mind and on paper before I explode. Bottomline - I write cause I enjoy the freedom of creating my own worlds, my own endings, not to be rich, but I do enjoy when readers tell me, "wow." That will never get old.

Michael Davis (
Author of the Year (2008 and 2009)
Award of Excellence (2012)

Cameron D. James said...

I'm definitely more on the entrepreneur side. I love what I write and I get inspiration for characters and plots all the time, and I try my best to make my typed words match my hot imagination -- so there might be some artist tendencies in there -- but I definitely approach it as an entrepreneur.

I have a manuscript half-finished that I wanted to finish and submit a couple months ago, but, sadly, homework got in the way. Now that homework is just about done, I'll buckle down and power through my manuscript. I'm determined to finish by the end of August. (Oh, and write and submit two short stories to two anthologies, also by the end of August). And then I've got my next novel loosely planned out in my head that I want to get started on ASAP.

And when my schooling is done in about seven months, my productivity should take a big jump.