What We Talk About When We Talk About Writing

MakeMeWriteWhat We Talk About When We Talk About Love is a collection of short stories by Raymond Carver. Brilliantly written and critically acclaimed, it’s been mentioned by dozens of famous followers and quoted in many -many- movies. In Stuck in Love (2010), the character William Borgens quotes the “human noise” that Carver describes at the end of the book. Borgens says that, as writers, it is our job to decipher that human noise to the best of our ability and create from it great works. The whole movie actually focuses on this family of writers and make it look so easy, deciphering the world and creating an opinion. I’m here to say that in many ways it’s much more difficult than that, and lend a few tried and true pieces of advice from my own experience.

Writing has been humbling as much as it’s been uplifting, especially during the editing process. I write for the Daily and have just joined the listerv for the Tribune and can say that editing can be painful yet essential. I never realized how much a piece needs to be revamped before going to press until I was on my third edit wondering how many times one can rephrase the word “song” and debating on how clear I was being about the artists’ mood and just wanting the whole experience to be over. That was my first piece, an album review written just wanting to test the waters of journalism, and since then I’ve come to really appreciate the editing process. I took it personally and had to remember not to. It’s just criticism (as I wrote about in my previous post)!

Samantha, in the Stuck and Love movie, published her first novel at the age of 19 and led an exceedingly adventurous life. While this is possible, it’s not the norm whatsoever and this movie put it into my head that I needed to write something world-altering, life-changing and dramatically impactful. I aspire to be such a writer but it’s okay to admit you’re no Stephen King yet. Writing is about practice. It’s a slow process built up through reading and the need to express so relax and don’t worry about the other guy. I’m in English currently and there’s so much stress in receiving essays and comparing yours to another students and the subjectivity of it all. In reality, the grade bothers me less than the knowledge that others wrote more eloquently and argued more critically than I did. But success in writing isn’t solely measured on skill, it’s recognized through action and actively pursuing opportunities. I highly suggest consulting the Tribune, the Daily, The Channel etc. etc. or anywhere else just to see if there’s a story to pick up a paper to submit. Get on a listerv! I love being an Arts/Entertainment/Culture writer and getting tickets to concerts, museum tours, plays, interviewing authors and more! It’s a great way to see Montreal!

Another quote I enjoyed that got passed around in the movie was from Flannery O’Connor. She said, “Nothing needed to happen in a writers life after they turned twenty. At that point, they’ve experienced enough to last them their creative career”. Having just turned twenty, I fell into a kind of shock (I think I’m too susceptible to movies in general). It was a great, “So this is it.” and then “So this is IT!”. But in reality, writing is about growing and developing. It’s important to reach out and find help and criticism and guidance. Talk to your professors at length and visit the McGill Writing Center! It’s a highly underrated resource that I absolutely love! It isn’t just for failing students and those with English as a second language. You meet with a graduate student (they’re not there for extensive paper editing to note, there is a resource for paper editing that you can consult such as the AUS Essay Center ) and then you discuss ideas and direction and sentence structure and anything else you like for however long you book your session. I’ve loved just being able to chat about my ideas with someone who can really help guide them!

This is everything I wish I heard when began writing at McGill. I wished I got into the scene earlier and it’s an amazing community to be a part of! But regardless if you’re just starting out or writing a paper or aspiring to be a journalist (or looking for a movie recommendation, because Stuck in Love is fantastic), take all things in strides and with enthusiasm and a practiced patience.

I wish you all the best in your creative endeavors!

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