My original springboard to writing was the thought: "Write a story." Simply that. I'm back to using that as my mantra.
I spend a lot of time just thinking about, mulling over my book.
It doesn't seem like I'm accomplishing much, but that's part of the process. Hard to distinguish sometimes whether I'm just being lazy or I'm letting my subconscious work on it.
I want to be disciplined, but I don't want to force it. There is a fine line there.
As I've said before, the writing process is at least as important as the creativity in actually accomplishing a book. Maybe more so. I can let my imagination run wild, but if I can't get it down on paper effectively, so what?
This may sound conceited, but I don't have doubt in my technical ability to 'write.' I also feel I have the creative chops. But the working process? That's more than half the battle to me. Doing the work.
Writing has has given some purpose to my non-working (businessman) life. That is, I've always tended to sit around and ponder things anyway, as part of my personality, so at least this sitting around and pondering is serving a purpose...
After my first three books were published, I could justify no end of sitting around and pondering.
Sitting in an easy chair, in a dark living room, quiet, a notebook on my lap. It brings back some nostalgic memories.
What subverted my writing career before was my own habits. They weren't effective. I would both over write and under write and not in the correct proportions. Especially my first book, STAR AXE. The final draft probably needed more, but it got published.
My second and third books (SNOWCASTLES and ICETOWERS)) came relatively easy, and were accepted right away, but probably needed a bit more work. Still, they are the model for what I'm trying to write now. Push through a first draft, then go back and flesh it out.
My fourth and fifth books were undercooked (under mulled, if you will) and my sixth book (DEVILTREE) was over cooked, refried, burned and salted and frozen and reheated and.....well, it actually turned out pretty good, but not to me.
I'd have to say my seventh book was on overreaction to that and thus, undercooked.
After that, I was so leery about the whole process that I think I created a writer's block. Which more or less lasted 25 years.
Now I'm back to: "Tell a story."
This is the first time I've been able to put together all the working lessons from those experiences and effectively follow through (so far.)
My idea has been to:
Write a first draft, at a pace that keeps the creative and the discipline in line with each other. Then, plan out the second draft and write it. Then, make final corrections (not so much rewriting the whole book again.)
I think this is going to be a much more satisfying experience than I expected. Just finishing the first draft is making me feel like a writer again. I needed to prove to myself that I'm not all talk. The blog has helped. Being at the store and talking to people about creativity has helped. Seeing the possibilities of online and/e-books and have some people encouraging me in that direction has helped.
But the biggest difference is pretty mundane. I have the time, finally. I'm guessing my average time off at the store over the last 25 years has been about 1 day a week. Sometimes it was 2 days, often it was no days off. The few times I had more time off I was so involved with expansions and employees that I really didn't have time off at all.
I've noticed before that I can't even think about writing creatively unless I have 3 days in a row, and that's barely enough. Four days is better, five days and it can be done.
But you still have to commit.
To use a huge cliche, I think it's a lot like climbing a mountain. You take those first few steps and look up and think, "Oh, My God. What have I started?" You get halfway up, and you're just slogging. But you get to the top, and you've accomplished it.
That is -- almost -- enough. Add in some liking of the book by the wife and some friends and the writer's group, and that helps too.
But you can't count on a book doing much more than that.
Why do you write a book? Because it's there.
5 days ago