Friday, October 26, 2012

The Coming Together of a Book.

I wrote the entry down below under the throes of some dewy eyed rapture about writing.
After yesterday's hard slog, I'm much more sober about it all.  I'd probably take my skill rankings below down a notch, and the difficulty rankings up a notch.

It's frustrating to think I'm "almost" good enough.  I don't think I'm putting myself down here, just trying to be realistic.

Writing is a skill as well as a talent and the needle can be moved by hard work, and practice, and maybe a moment's inspiration.

Anyway, beware the overweening naivety.  I'm aware of it, but unwilling to tamp it down.

The Coming Together of a Book.

At least to my own satisfaction.

I think I've been flailing around for the last year and a half, thinking I was getting somewhere, but in the last couple weeks I feel like I've finally gotten my feet under me.

I've started feeling such a sense of satisfaction, that it's becoming addicting to me.  It's a high I can't describe.

The Coming Together of a Book.

I don't get this from anything else.  I had forgotten it.  It's probably been 25 years that I really felt it.

I don't know how to express it -- a very rewarding feeling of having created a Real Thing -- something that exists in its own right outside of me.   Followed by the feeling that this is what I was meant to be doing.

So that alone has been worth the effort.

So if I look at all my books, I can see them in three different levels.

1.)  Adequate.  First draft level, readable.

2.)  Better but still not altogether good.

3.)   An actual good book.

Frankly, I'm not sure I've ever gotten to the third level.  But I hadn't identified the problem quite so clearly.

So Star Axe was more or less at the second level. (I think I thought the editors would help me get to another level; instead they accepted it and who was I to argue?)

Snowcastles was probably at the first level, just more 'readable' than normal.

Icetowers was at the second level.

The 4th and 5th books, Bloodstone and The Changelings, probably didn't even get to the first level, frankly.

The 6th book, Deviltree, got at the higher regions of the second level, but despite all my efforts never got the turbo boost.

The 7th book, Sometimes a Dragon, was probably more or less a first level book.

The 8th book, I'm Only Human, which is the one I'm working on now, I think is very close to becoming a second level book.  I'm in the rough stage of that.  But instead of sending it off I want to ask my subconscious for a way to make it a third level book.

The 9th book, The Reluctant Wizard, I can now see clearly as a first level book -- but I have yet to really apply myself to it.

So the basic idea, is get the books to the second level; but then try to boost them to a third level.

I'm actually confident that I can.  I may be wrong -- since I haven't gotten there yet in my own estimation.  But I have to try.

How do I judge it?

Adequate:  5 or 6 on a scale of 10.
Good.  7 or 8 on a scale of 10.
Really good.  9 or 10.

I think books get published in the range of 6 and above, though obviously, the higher the scale the more your chances.  However, I believe an 8 could be passed on, and a 6 accepted, for reasons beyond the actual quality.

I think on a scale of 10, my imagination is at about an 7 or 8, potentially more.  My writing ability is about a 5 or 6, but after a lot of work can get to a 7 or 8.  My work habits have been a dismal 2 or 3, but over the last few weeks have suddenly become a 5 or 6, possibly even a 7.

(Obviously, my ego is a 9 or 10.)

Here's the thing.  There was simply no way with my responsibilities over the last 30 years that I could have gotten there.  But now, I'm finally in a position to do it.

I have a weird confidence I can.  Especially now that I've clarified my goals.

Who knows what happens after -- whether I find an agent, or a publisher, or put it online and hope for an audience... 

That's all secondary to my own estimation of whether I've accomplished my goal.  I've traveled such a distance from when I first start writing again -- around May of last year.  I see now, that it requires that I go ALL IN, or it won't work.  Writing my first draft of The Reluctant Wizard --which was a totally immersive experience -- was my first intimation.  Now, being equally obsessive about the new draft of I'm Only Human, only confirms the necessity.

Back to the mundane work habit:

I have 6 clear days to work on this new 'rough' draft of I'm Only Human and hope to get it finished.  It will happen or it won't.  It's important that I stay on it, but not give myself a deadline.

Then I need to clean it up of discrepancies and contradictions.  Again, important that I stay on it, but not give it a deadline.

Make sure that I've got all the exposition in order.

Then try to add more scene descriptions -- sights, sounds, smells, etc. etc.  Telling details. The actual quality of writing that makes the book come alive.

Then --,  I need to start searching for the turbo charged last draft, whatever that is.  This may happen soon -- or a long time from now.  Eventually, if I give up on getting to the third level, I'll have to decide what to do about it.

Thing is, my subconscious seems to be coming up with solutions, which is pretty damn cool.  I only need to ask the right questions.  So I'm giving myself the benefit of the doubt and thinking I'll come up with the third version.

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