~~Kenneth L. Capps is the author of the upcoming novel, Forgiving Waters, and today’s guest blogger. ~~
When I answer anyone who asks me, “Where did you learn to write?” “Who is your favorite writer?” or, “Where did you go to school?” the look on their face quickly fades from a glowing inquisitive smile to a vague scowl, barely visible, but definitely disappointed. I explain that I have read only 20 or 30 books in my entire life. I don’t have a favorite author because I just don’t read. My education, as far as writing is concerned, is as threadbare as a welder’s blue jeans. My schooling doesn’t go much farther than high school, which I barely made it out of. However, I do enjoy scribbling my thoughts onto paper and reading them back to myself.
Writing, to me, is freedom. When I write my thoughts on paper, and then go back later and edit them so they make some kind of sense, I find clarity. I take that clarity, and I organize it into a complete story. We all do it. We daydream, make up stories, embellish, and just plain entertain ourselves when no one’s looking. My mind (and yours!) is a wonderful place to be free and explore both stupidity and genius.
I used to talk to myself a lot when I was a child, and my father would say, “Stop! If you keep doing that, someone will think you’re crazy.” I knew my father was wrong, even at the age of five. I still talk to myself and at times I rant, but it’s okay; I know I’m not crazy. What is crazy is someone pointing their finger, not literally but in a verbal way, and saying, “You can’t write because you don’t have the education for it.” Granted, not many would be so bold or rude and say that to you. If someone does, I don’t think you should talk to that kind of mean-spiritedness anyway. Everyone has a story; if you want to see how good the story is, express it on paper, even if “someone will think you’re crazy” or you’re the only one that reads it.
Some people refuse to write because they are poor spellers and they think punctuation is a mystery that cannot be solved. Don’t let that stop you. Punctuation can be tricky, and I am the world’s worst speller. I couldn’t spell my way out of the fourth grade if you held a screaming eight-year-old up next to my ear. Admittedly, it will take extra work and effort to get your writing to where it can be passed off as legible, but that is part of the process. That’s where hiring a good editor is of utmost importance— someone you trust, someone who understands your focus, but also is a professional, practiced in editorial with good testimonials. It all begins with you, though. The writing.
Break those chains, whatever they are, and write. From within, you will find the motivation to at least amuse yourself. You might even find others are entertained along the way too. Pour out your thoughts onto paper. Get lost in the pen and see where it takes you. Then revisit it after it’s had some time to marinate on the page. I know you will be surprised.
One last thought and I will use the words of a world-famous editor to get my point across, “Whaddya, a scaredy cat?” Now go write something.
(Kenneth Capps recently completed his first novel, Forgiving Waters, which is due to be released in June. Read more about Ken by clicking here.