Thursday, March 15, 2012

One year

As I work on my own writing, it's hard to stay focused on what I'm working on and not dwelling on the fact that all my favorite books are so much better. Because really, I can't compare myself to those other books, but I do it anyway. I can't help myself. They're my favorites because I keep thinking about them, keeping wanting to go back to them and just immerse myself completely. The kind of immersion where the room around you disappears and the words on the page become a part of your mind, and you're no longer reading the story, but living it.

That's a hefty goal for a beginning writer, and pretty goddamn pretentious. I've been writing semi-seriously for exactly one year today. I've had exactly one creative writing class. I've attempted NaNoWriMo exactly once and only wrote 17k words. The authors I love have MFA's, several manuscripts under their belt, teach, go to regular writing groups, and have worked their asses off just to get their first contract, let alone where they are today. Brandon Sanderson wrote nine 300k books in five years. Dan Wells wrote six books. Howard Taylor spent six years posting a new strip online every day for free before he finally quit his day job to focus on it full time. Jessica Corra wrote seven books before getting an offer for After You.

It's not a job, it's a passion. A passion that requires isolating yourself from the world for hours on end and subjecting themselves to emotions only rightfully earned by schizophrenics and cocaine addicts.

Every week I'm slapped in the face with how stupid my book is. How I'm wasting my time doing this and should just sign my soul over to the cubicle now, save myself the emotional pain. But that wouldn't do anything to help me. The characters would still be stuck in my head, and I would be torturing them, because I'm keeping them trapped in my brain-prison without letting them realize their full potential. At that point I've become the villain, sticking pins into my heroes' fingertips and laughing while all the small children die.

I can't expect myself to be a literary genius right off the bat. That will come with lots of blood, sweat, and tears, and probably not for another ten years at least. I haven't even finished a complete manuscript yet. Once that happens, I can revise until the cows come home and it's been transformed into a completely different story if I want. The important part is that the story gets told, and the characters have become the best they can be. Then I write something else, gives some other characters a chance to shine, and make it even better than the previous attempt.

I have so much work ahead of me before I can ever consider myself a serious or decent writer, I'm positive I can't even fathom it right now. I might as well enjoy my beginner's ignorance while it lasts, and just tell the best story I can. Laugh with glee at my adverbs and cardboard characters and cliched action scenes, and then furiously and obsessively revise it to death, until it's something I can be proud of. And then move on to something else. It's only the first draft. And if I'm not enjoying the journey, there's really no point to it, is there?

Here's to another glorious year of floundering around and drowning. One day I'll have my own boat, in the meantime, I'll stay in the shallow end and enjoy the sun.

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