"There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island." - Walt Disney

Monday, November 7, 2011

Status Seekers vs. Storytellers

I’ve reached about 16,200 words on my NaNoWriMo project and have an additional several thousand in notes and outline material that have not been typed. While this puts me ahead of schedule (you should have roughly 11,667 if you are setting an equal daily word count to reach the 50,000 word mark) I feel dispirited by my story so far. It’s starting to feel flat.
In an effort to rejuvenate my muse, today I picked up a copy of The Fire in Fiction by Donald Maass.  In the introduction he says: The more I see, the more I feel that novelists fall into two broad categories: those whose desire is to be published, and those whose passion is to spin stories.” He says he thinks of them as status seekers and storytellers.
He then goes on to give examples from his more than thirty years experience as an agent and workshop director. I felt myself questioning my own motives. Of course I have a deep desire to see my work published, to see my craft validated by editors and readers…does that mean I’m a status seeker? If so, aren’t we all? I believe the difference is in the actions taken by the writer: how you analyze, edit and redirect yourself.
Maass goes on to show us exactly what he feels the difference is between the status seekers and storytellers. I encourage all serious writers to read this book. In addition to giving you a realistic grasp of the industry, he provides great examples from modern literature and exercises at the end of each section.
Which type of writer are you? Have you read this book?

11 comments:

Pat transplanted to MN said...

Have not read that book but I think it may be on my to get list now. This is my first visit to your blog. Interesting. Found you link on Ann Best's blog.

jennymilch said...

I literally just finished this book by Maass! I got a lot out of it, although I wasn't sure I agreed with all his conclusions about *where* the fire comes from. That we need it--for sure. But in my own journey, I found my work to get more intense the further I got from personal experience and investment. I'm sure this differs between writers, though. It was a great read. Thanks for the post!

Sylvia Ney said...

Pat and Jenny - thank you for stopping by. I'm really enjoying this book so far.

Heidi Windmiller said...

I haven't read this book.

But I'd have to say I'm a storyteller because I've writing four novels just for the fun of it and have never queried.

My goal for next year is to become more of a status seeker--I need to grow the desire to become published.

Christine Rains said...

Thanks for mentioning this book. I'm going to have to check it out. I'm a storyteller. Of course, I'd love to be published, but I'll keep writing even if I never publish a single book.

Jess said...

Great book. I'm a Maass fan even though I don't always agree with him. He inspires me and I feel more motivated when I read his books. While I'm more of a storyteller, I think I'm a combination of the two. I guess if I was much of a status seeker I'd get off my butt and get my novels out there--one way or another. :)

Rob-bear said...

I haven't read Maass book, but I already know that I'm a storyteller. Which is perhaps why I have never published a book.

S.B.Niccum said...

Sylvia, thanks for stopping by! Good luck with your NaNoWriMo. I have found that I go flat too if I write too much too soon or too fast or under a deadline. I find that writing for one to two hours per day is better than spending a whole day writing.

Tonja said...

I felt the same way about my NaNo novel, so I pondered what it was missing and edited the first four chapters. I know that's absolutely wrong in NaNoWorld, but it reset the story in a better direction, and now I love it.

I'm behind schedule, but am not stressing, so I think I'm a storyteller. :)

Collette said...

Keep up the great work! Every little bit helps :D

Elisabeth Hirsch said...

I really need to read this. It sounds so interesting. I hope I'm not a status seeker.