When I moved to Austin, I was surprised to learn that every guy and gal hanging out at a coffee shop was a novelist, every barista was sitting on a few truly outstanding, and unpublished, literary masterpieces, and everyone with a beard, a bike or a flowery skirt was either a great poet, the next Flannery O’Connor or the creator of the most amazing movie script in the history of scripts. It took me a week to figure out it was all bullshit. Then I learned that it’s even worse online. To help you figure it out faster, and to clarify things for all the “writers” out there, here’s a list of things that don’t make you a writer:
The two of them were bending over a case, browsing through three-dimensional projected images inside the glass case. The young lad kept flicking through the menu, rejecting choices faster than the old man could keep up. He was frowning at the boy’s rushing, and hit the [Project] button on one image, of an old tower building. He seemed to recognise it.
“Here… my great-great- great…who knows how many greats, Grandah helped build that!”
“Built over 300 year ago, now Grandah.” The boy was reading the projected data
“Do you tell me that?”
“I do, that. Majestic Hotel, it were. What’s ‘hotel’?”
“Do you not know that? A hotel was a place people stayed when they came to visit a town.”
“Like our Home-blocks, then?”
“Not at all, not at all. Guests they were called, and only stayed a short time before moving on, and paid for their staying.”
“They paid for a place to live, then?”
“No, for a place to stay…listen boyo. Back then, people paid for everything.”
“Everything, Grandah? Like, food, and clothes, and school, and—“
“Not school. That were Gummint provided, no cost. ‘Cept for rich people; they paid if their chil-derns were at a private school. Least, dat’s what I’ve read.”
“So, Grandah, this hotel… built ‘way back in th’ olden days then. But it looks same as our home-blocks, dunnit.”
“So it does, so it does. Back then, it were called ‘futuristic’. Wonder what them people’d think if they saw our buildings today.”
Ding! …and the Simulated Automatic Mouth recited…
“Doors close in fifteen minutes. Those on floors thirty-five to fifty, use the express elevators one, two, three, four and five. From floors fifteen to thirty-four, use elevators six, seven, eight and nine. Those on floors fourteen and below, use elevators ten, eleven and twelve to the third floor. Those on the third floor use the rapid escalator in the central foyers. Do not use elevators thirteen and fourteen. At the sound of the next bell, you will have thirteen minutes to clear the building.”
“It’s closing time, Grandah; we’ll have to use a rapid elevator.”
“Do you tell me that, boyo?”
“I do that, I. Can we come again?” He grabbed his mePad and stuffed it into the meBag which began to buzz, ready to follow him.
“Can you not use the Explorer on your edication pad?”
“Yea, I can…but here, it’s more like real. Can we come back, then?” He grabbed Grandah’s hand and began walking to elevator three, along the footway between exhibits. His meBag followed.
“Next time your edication pad posts a day off, we will, for sure.”
So there we are, in November, NaNo’ing away and “pow”–we write a beautifully descriptive “Show” and by the time we’ve finished that–we’ve “lost the plot”.
Am I right? ‘Fess up–it happens.
Okay, I’ll ‘fess up–it happened to me. And as my creative flow subsided to a trickle, I spent d-a-a-a-ys trying to remember that fantastic plot point that was supposed to follow.
In the time spent in “showing” my reader the scenery, I’d lost track of the action.
IF ONLY I had known the “Tell” was OK in a first draft.
But after three years studying creative writing, ‘show, don’t tell’ was well and truly under my skin.
No more – I have got rid of that premise, and fully adopted LOFQUIST’s concept.
As should you, the Booker Prize author washing dishes while awaiting discovery.
Enjoy the new freedom!