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Ninety per cent

The window is replaced, the excitement has died down, I still can’t find anything missing from the house after last week’s uninvited visit. But now we have a motion-sensitive light over our backyard & a locksmith scheduled to make our internal door even more steadfast than it proved to be last week.

(What a great idea that internal door was. I always figured I was just being paranoid.)

Energy levels have finally recovered, too, after last weekend’s 33-hour Robert McKee Story seminar in Sydney. And though the organisers & I will agree to disagree on some aspects, it was a worthwhile weekend. Satisfying? I couldn’t call it that.

Because what McKee reminds me of is how good story can get, & that’s always going to make you remember the gap in your own work between where you are & where you want to be. “Only amateurs love everything they write,” says McKee, further pointing out that, “Ninety per cent of all writing is shit.”

Ninety per cent of your own writing — he assures us — is shit. That’s why you need that ‘passion for perfection’, that willingness to throw stuff away, the desire to edit & re-edit, to plan, to process, to pull out just that ten per cent & to keep doing it.

People will tell you, says McKee, that writing is a highly competitive business, that writers are a dime a dozen. But that’s not true, because for someone who can actually write good story, “There is no competition.”

It’s a seller’s market. If you can do it.

“Write the truth.” That’s what he wrote when he signed my edition of his book. Don’t write the facts (“The facts are what happened. The truth is our human interpretation of what happened.”). Don’t be satisfied with the ninety per cent.

Write the truth.

… Sound easy?