Friday, September 07, 2007

The emotions of writing

A friend of mine, someone who reads a lot of fantasy but who has no aspirations to be a writer, read a few of my short stories recently. The next day she paid me a fine compliment. She said, "You have what it takes to be a full-time fantasy writer. Don't give up."

That was great. It's always nice to hear something like that.

However, then she asked me what I felt about my own work, specifically she was interested in the fantasy trilogy I'm working on. After quick thinking on my part, I said something like, "It's okay, but it's not my best work. It has some good parts, but overall I have to admit it's not my best."

I was telling the truth.

Now, a writer wants everything he writes to be fantastic, but that's not reality. I've found I get more emotionally involved with short stories simply because there is usually strong emotion behind the story (at least for me, and hopefully for the reader), and in a short I can keep that emotional inertia flowing.

Novel writing is a different thing. While I might have strong feelings while writing parts of a novel, there are nights when I'm just putting down words to be putting down words, to get my quota for the day or to at least feel like I'm getting SOMETHING done.

That's where rewriting and editing come into play. Hopefully, on second or third or thirty-third sweep through a story I can get it right. Or, at the very least, get it better.

Being perfect is something to strive for, but the truth of the matter is you can NEVER get any story, short or long, perfect. It's an impossibility. The best you can hope for is that you can work it up to your own standards. If your standards happen to be complete perfection, then you'll never get anything published, let alone written.

On the flip side, though, it's always fun to pull out something I wrote ten or more years ago and try to rework it today to make it better. Sometimes that works too, but sometimes not.

Food for thought.

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