“Nothing is too long or too short either if you have a true and interesting tale and what I call a ‘graphic’ writing style combined with educational aims.” – Charles Portis, from his book True Grit
I recently had a conversation regarding the important characteristics of being a writer. My companion and I came up with the most common traits, like dreamer, creative, and imaginative. Then we came up with the psychological traits, like ambitious, passionate, and persistent. And then that’s when my companion threw me a curve ball.
“Writers have to have grit.”
Now, the first time I had ever heard the word grit was when I watched John Wayne’s True Grit movie. The last time I had heard that word was while watching the remake with Jeff Bridges. And to be honest, I didn’t even know the movies were actually based on a book until I found the above quote. 😛 I even had to look up the word just to make sure I hadn’t gotten my definitions twisted. According to the dictionary, and despite it being another word for sand, grit means firmness of character.
So is one of the characteristics of being a writer, who the world sees as introverted dreamers, is having grit?
I say yes. Not only do we have the fun but daunting task of writing a complete story, but then we have to throw that artwork out into the masses in hopes that a publisher picks it up and that readers adore it. And if you’re an indie author, you have your work really cut out for you because not only are you the author, but also the publisher, marketer, and PR person. You are literally the master of your own destiny, and for that you really need to have true grit. You need to know who you are as a person and author combined with knowing who your audience is combined with knowing what you’re goals are combined with what you’re willing to do to achieve those goals. It’s a hard business, and the “dog eat dog” saying really takes effect.
So to my fellow writers out there, if anyone ever tells you that you’re too much of a dreamer, you’re chasing a pipe dream, you’re weak and sensitive and all those other cliches that people claim artists are, just be a writer with true grit and come at them sideways with this attitude:
Happy reading and happy writing! 😀