Wednesday, November 27, 2013

To my future self.

So I've got this long drawn out analogy, which most of you will probably lose interest in. (Overthinking it much?)

But I want to get it down for my 'future' self in case I ever wonder why I made the choices I made.

The analogy is way at the end of this blog -- first I have a couple of preliminaries...


There is a freedom in writing for myself -- a liberating, euphoric freedom.

How to explain....... 

So I reach a point in a plot where I'm wondering -- do I do this or do I do that?  I ask myself -- what will people think if I do that?  Often, the answer is -- they'll probably think it's silly, or stupid, or hackneyed.

So I change what I'm doing, and try something else.

But let's say I really liked the idea and will always wonder if I could have made it work.

There is a difference in how I approach writing.  It comes down to whether I'm worried about what others think, or whether I'm writing for myself.  If I write for myself, I give myself permission to do anything.  If I start to consider how it is going to look to others -- then I start second guessing myself.

I'm free and light when I do it for myself.  I'm bogged down with all kinds of worries and concerns when I starting thinking about doing it for others.

So if I'm concerned about going through a traditional method of publishing, I think one way.  If I'm doing it for myself, I often think another way.  The doing it for myself gives me the permission to follow my own creative impulses.

The minute I start to consider how other people are going to think -- it changes.  It's less satisfying.  I'm not as willing to take chances.  If I do it for myself, I figure I can fix whatever is wrong with it, or perhaps come up with something wildly different.

So that means I'm just indulging myself, right?

Not necessarily.  This is similar to the idea that I have some control over whether a book is good or bad.  Well, of course I do, right?

Not that I can see.  I doubt anyone sets out to write a "bad" book.  Everyone is probably doing their best.

At least I am.  I'm not setting out to write a book I don't like.  I'm writing to my maximum current abilities.

Really, when I'm talk about that kind of thing, I'm really talking about how much time I want to spend on rewriting.  So, basically, the idea is that if I'm writing on a qualitative scale of 1 to 10, that if I start with a 6, and then spend two years diligently trying to improve it, that I end up with an 8.

(I don't think this is necessarily a given, at least for me.  It's more a three steps forward two steps back process.  What I gain in polish and perhaps depth, I lose in spontaneity and freshness.  Sometimes, I think, it's even a two steps forward and three steps back process.)

But say I spend much less time trying to improve it, and I end up with a 6.5 or a 7.

Obviously, an 8 is better than a 6.5.  But what if it takes two years to achieve an 8, and three months to achieve the 7?  So in two years I've achieved one 8 level book, whereas I might have had eight 7 level books -- or more likely, say one 5 level book, three 6 level books, three 7 level books, and one 8 level book.

It's worse than that.  Let's say by writing eight books I learn and get better.  So each book is a .2 improvement.  So by the eighth book, I'm at a 7.6 level to start.  I really believe this is happening.  Maybe it's a .1 improvement, but it's happening.

It's not all one thing or the other.  I can set aside the 5 and 6 level books and come back to them later.  I may improve a 7 level book easily, or take a long time but do other things while I'm at it.

(Again, overthinking it much?  ;)

So -- I haven't even reached the analogy yet, by the way...


Second part of the preliminary thinking.

I now think of writing with architecture in mind.  So, every book has a foundation, it has walls, it has different levels, it has rooms and windows and doors, it has plumbing and electricity, it has a roof, and so on.

So when I construct a book, I have to keep all those elements in mind.  I may build part of the foundation and part of the roof at the same time, I may build one room at a time, but in the end I have to put all the elements together.

The art of it is in how I construct these elements. So let's say, I decide to build a Colonial?


So here's where I start the analogy.

I just build the Colonial, because that's what I want to do.

But everyone is buying Craftmen houses.  Let's say -- Northwest Crossing.

Whereas, I feel like building a Colonial east of town, in the middle of the desert.

Pretty stupid.  I admit.  If my goal is to actually sell it, or even have people find it, I'm doing a very doubtful thing.

So there's the difference.  If I build in Northwest Crossing, I will have to worry about what the market wants, try to fit in, build where everyone else is building.  In doing so, I have to get permits, I have to hire contractors, I have trust that a real estate agent will sell the house.  It takes forever, I'm building to other people's specifications, and in the end there is no guarantee that the house will sell anyway.

But my little Colonial.  I do it all myself.  I build it quickly.  I don't have to have contractors or workers or permits or any of those things.  It's a little quirky, with a little tower on one end, a back room that's round.

Totally not the style anyone wants, completely out of place in the sagebrush and junipers.

Worse -- it doesn't have any connectors.  It doesn't have sewer line, or a water main, or an electrical line.  It's all wells, and generators, and so on.

But it's done.

So what?  Nobody will find it, if they do find it, they won't have any way of relating to it.  It will sit lonely and unappreciated.

But I compound the problem, and build another one...and another.  Each a different style -- whatever I feel like building.  Pretty soon I have a whole sub-division of misfits, which very few people will find, they have to take my word that the houses are livable.

Who knows?  Maybe someday Colonials in the desert will be all the rage.  Probably won't happen, but you never know.  Maybe the subdivision will fit into the larger picture someday. 


This is all just to say -- writing for myself is free and liberating and fast and fun -- but perhaps pointless.  But all I have to do is build it.  I don't have to worry about anything else.

Writing for others is second guessing, and frustrating, and takes forever, and isn't much fun, and constricting -- and maybe just as pointless.  But there is a chance, if a slim one.

So do I want to put up with everything else for a slim chance?

I've decided -- no.

Sorry you had to read my whole labored analogy to get here....

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