Reflections on Writing: Looking Back at Work from Days of Yore

As I said a week or two ago, I’m in the process of rereading one of my earliest books: Weaver of Dreams. This was the third novel I’d written, and I’ve always had very fond memories of it. In my head, it’s a great book, and all it needs is a bit of dusting up, tightening of a few hinges, and it’ll be ready for publication.

Or so I thought.

The first chapter was good. Solid as I remembered it. The second one had a few bumps. I kept reading. And reading.

And . . . what in the name of all that’s good in this world was I thinking? This book isn’t ready for publication *at all*. I mean, sure–there are some highlights here and there. The voice of the main character is good, and some of the conflicts in it are salvageable, but so much of it is just . . . not that great.

What, specifically?

  • There are whole chapters where nothing happens but two characters talking to each other. And they’re not even talking to each other in person. They’re using telepathy. This brings the phrase “talking heads” to a whole new level.
  • The main plot doesn’t really sort itself out until at least 2/3 of the way through the book
  • The villain doesn’t show up until 1/2 way through
  • The writing is just terribly uneven. The mood fluctuates all over the place.
  • The pacing stinks. I’ll have a scene where some tension is ratcheting up, and then I’ll have characters start discussing the basics of grammar for two pages. (I’m not exaggerating here.)
I could go on, but I really ought to be nicer to myself. I bring all this up because I wanted to discuss a few thoughts I’d been having while reflecting on this process:
  • Weaver of Dreams was written about eight years ago. I really hope I don’t look at Vodnik eight years from now with the same emotions I have reading Weaver.
  • Then again, I’m happy to see that my skill has grown so much (or rather, that I feel it has). Eight years ago, I thought Weaver of Dreams was awesome. So much so that I still thought of it that way all this time later. So if I read it now and don’t like so much of it, that must mean I’m *beyond awesome* now. Right? Right?
  • Even with all its troubles, the book has some underpinnings that really intrigue me and make me want to revisit the world and its characters. I still have to finish reading it, but I have some good ideas about directions I want the novel to take. In other words, it’s not a lost cause, and I’m happy about that.
How about you? Ever revisit something you were really proud of years ago, only to be surprised by its quality (or lack thereof) today? Do share.

4 Comments

  • By Kjerste, September 15, 2011 @ 6:25 pm

    “I’ll have a scene where some tension is ratcheting up, and then I’ll have characters start discussing the basics of grammar for two pages.”

    I don’t see the problem here. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • By Bryce's Ramblings, September 15, 2011 @ 6:27 pm

    And I didn’t mention that it was the third conversation I’d had in the book so far about the same grammatical point. Oh yeah. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • By Kjerste, September 16, 2011 @ 6:53 pm

    This reminds me of the multi-page treatise on pipe organ construction in Cryptonomicon. I guess if you’re Neal Stephenson you can get away with it. ๐Ÿ™‚

    (Also, I want to know what the grammatical point was.)

  • By Bryce's Ramblings, September 20, 2011 @ 1:17 pm

    It was on how contractions are constructed, and it was about as interesting to read now as you’d think it would be. Really–what was I thinking?

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