Musings on Writing

So there are some thoughts I’d like to get down somewhere, if only to see if I can’t work out some issues I’ve been having lately.  The biggest one is confidence in writing.  Sigh.  My last book went from a very positive experience at the beginning to hellish by the end.  Each week at writing group started to make me feel like a pinata.  Honestly, it feels like it’s been so long since I had everyone say things like “I really enjoyed most of this” that I think it’s starting to affect me.  But at the same time, I don’t want them to lighten up one bit.  I want to be sure that whenever I get good weeks–compliments on writing well done–that it’s authentic and not merely my writing group trying to make me feel warm and fuzzy inside.

Lesana proved to be a strange book.  I think I’d sum it up as a book with some good characters, a nice setting, the potential for an interesting and unique magic system, some good conflicts . . . and a plot that sucks to extent I didn’t think was possible.  At the beginning, the problem was that the plot was non-existent.  At the end, the problem was that it was incomprehensible and nonsensical.

Now, I feel like that’s not a problem with my current book, Ichabod.  But then I find myself questioning it, since things went so wrong last time.  But I do feel like I learned a lot from the experience.  Lesana was the first book I ever tried to plot out ahead of time, and I discovered that if I’m going to plot out ahead of time, I’d better do it all the way instead of just partially.  Ichabod’s totally plotted, and so I know (or I think I know) that it will have a plot, and that the plot will be comprehensible and sensible.  Even if it ends up sucking, which I hope it doesn’t.  My hope is that things start going better once I start submitting Ichabod, and that I get some of my confidence back.  It’s silly that I should get feeling this way just because I have a “bad” week at writing group, and it makes me wonder how some of the other members of the group feel about my comments.  I can certainly dish it out, and if I can’t take it back, then I’d be rather hypocritical.  I give honest feedback because that’s what I expect in return, no matter how much it might make me whine and complain.

In any case, I know I’ll just keep writing Ichabod.  I think I’m about halfway done already.  It’s certainly been a piece of cake to write compared to Lesana.  What have I learned?

1–I think I like plotting a whole lot more than I thought I did.  But if I do it, I do it all the way.
2–NEVER start rewriting a book mid-way because of writing group’s comments.  NEVER.  This is a stupid thing for me to admit to having “learned,” because I thought I knew it to begin with.  But I fell into that trap, started retooling Lesana, and that’s one of the reasons it’s so convoluted now.

So great.  I have a moral to the story.  But that still leaves me with the question of what to do with Lesana now?

suggested I give it time–that I leave it alone for another four months or so, then reread it and reshape it then.  And he’s probably right.  But part of me wants to attack it right now and make it better, thus proving to myself that I’m a competent, capable writer.  Then again, judging by the anguish

has been having with her rewrite, perhaps rewriting something just for the sake of having it done would be a mistake.  I think I’ll leave it alone at least until I have Ichabod written, which means I’ll give it another month or so of shelf time before I go at it again.

I think I’m just in the middle of a very tumultuous time.  I’m finishing school, looking for a job, trying to make my writing work, helping my wife with her thesis and trying to keep my house from becoming a disaster zone all at the same time.  I should probably just try to not feel a need to perfect everything right this second.  I have to tell myself that it’s not cowardice to leave the Lesana alone for a bit before I revise–it’s good sense.  Right?

Anyway.  Maybe none of that really made sense, and I’m not sure I feel the hoped-for catharsis of having gotten it all out on paper.  I read it over and look like a big whiny mess.  Oh well.  I thought about just deleting the post, but maybe it’ll make sense to me later.  That’s all I have time for right now–I need to go vacuum something.  There’ll be a Buttersby post later on, and I’ll try to make it light and fluffy.

2 thoughts on “Musings on Writing”

  1. A couple of things. First of all, you do not have to revise Lesana in order to prove that you are a good writer. I think you should revise it (though taking a step back is probably a good idea for a while), but NOT to prove that you’re a good writer. You ARE a good writer. One of the reasons we’re so hard on you in writing group is BECAUSE you are a good writer. We’re harder on you than we are on some people, because of the quality of your writing. You’re good at this. Really.
    That said, Lesana is kind of a mess. BUT that doesn’t mean that the next book will be, or that you can’t fix it if that’s what you want to do. What I learned from The Royal Tongue, though, is that some books are going to turn out better than others, especially while I’m still figuring things out.
    But you’re an excellent writer. You write clever sentences, clever characters, and you have the discipline to finish books and the drive to meet editors and send things out. That’s everything you’re going to need to make it.
    Damn, I ought to be giving this pep talk to myself. Oh wait, Isaac did. Last night.
    But really. It’s true. And I’m not just saying that to be nice. (Please. We all know I’m just not that nice.)

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