Sunday, December 1, 2013

Getting proficient.

My strategy since I came back to writing was just to keep writing -- do the best I can each time, and then move on. 

My feeling was -- I would get better if I just kept doing it.

In the meantime, I'd just judge each book on its own merits.  If it was ready, then I'd put it out.  The Vampire Evolution Trilogy books seemed to be ready, right away.  Freedy Filkins was exactly what it should be.

The Reluctant Wizard was OK but could be much better and was part of a larger storyline.  Put it aside.  The rewrite of Sometimes a Dragon was better, but needs to be better still.  Spell Realm is a bit of mess, but has potential.  I'm using the word inchoate for my fantasies -- a lot of the elements are there, but they're also a mess.

Faerylander was a huge problem, and book needed to be rewritten and rewritten over and over again, until I was satisfied.  Wolflander, the sequel, came out fine.

Led to the Slaughter had so much potential that even though it came out fine, I thought I could improve it.   I'm happy with it now, and will probably put it out soon.

Deviltree is fine, and probably can't be improved very much.  It was written 30 years ago -- and a lot of work was put into it then.  So it just needs to be made ready.

And now I'm writing Deeptower, the sequel, and I'm really liking it.

What is happening, I think, is that I'm getting more proficient.  I've been fine turning the process, which is a big deal.  I've got a certain number of words I try to get in every day, not too little, not too much.  I have a good idea about the 'architecture' of each book.  I've rediscovered the tone I feel I'm best at producing. The work habits -- the things that allow me to be creative -- are to me just as important as the creative part itself. 

I've managed to really work out a process.

Getting down the story proficiently in the first place, gives me a chance to expend my creative energy on making it better.  I don't believe being proficient in and of itself necessarily makes the books better, but being proficient gives me more of an opportunity to make them better, if that makes sense.

When I first came back, I forbid myself from rewriting until I was done -- because of past experiences of changing too much and bogging down in confusion.  Now...I allow myself to go back and change things as I go along.  I allow myself to browse the manuscript and make changes.

I've figured out little tricks that guide me into rewriting, and I think my resistance, my dislike of rewriting is breaking down. 

All this is great.  But the original idea and plot are probably more important than all of that, and those are going to come on a hit or miss basis.  Which is another reason to keep writing books.  Writing a really good book is the goal each time, and each time I probably fall a little short of that -- but I'm not sure I'm the best judge of that.

It gets so that I don't judge it that way -- I just ask myself if it is a complete story; does it deserve to exist?  Do these characters and this world deserve to be read?  Whether it is any good or not, isn't up to me, I think.  That's a qualitative judgement on the part of the reader and will be different with each reader.

A really big discovery for me is the wonderous advantage of having already written a book, creating the characters and the world.  The second book is so much easier.  And the third and so on.

Except when it's all one storyline, like in the Vampire Evolution Trilogy, then it becomes more complicated.  But the complication is possible because the preliminaries have been done.

But the writing itself seems to be flowing without too much stress.  It almost feels too easy, but I know that if it comes out proficiently, than that is what I'm striving for. 

Then all I can do is try to make it better.

1 comment:

Duncan McGeary said...

I think you can be proficient without creating art, but I don't think you can create art on a regular basis without being proficient.