Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Brief Update

"You must stay drunk on writing
 so that reality cannot destroy you."
- Ray Bradbury
I finished the first draft of my fantasy/horror short story that remains as of yet untitled. As you can see from the Current Writing Projects section of the sidebar, it turned out to be a little over 10,000 words, which is a lot longer than I had intended or foreseen. As a partial experimentation in short story writing, I thought it went fairly well.

Doubtless it needs editing, but I'm going to let it breathe some before tackling it. Like a fine wine, I've found most of my writing is more palatable after some time has passed (and my inner editor has a chance to chill the heck out).

It is a relief to be done, though! I love the feeling of completion, having seen a project through from beginning to end. Nothing like it in the world. The only odd thing is, as much as I wanted to be finished, I'm already antsy to start another project, haha! So goes the life of a writer, I s'ppose! No rest for the inspired!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Fail Again. Fail Better.

A part of me has been putting off this blog post because I didn't want to admit failure. Silly, maybe, but true! As writers, we experience failure all the time, whether in the form of rejections or something as small as a few lines of dialogue not working out. It's never fun, but ofttimes necessary to our growth.

My Camp NaNovel didn't end up working out, I'm sorry to say. I started off poorly, my persnickety ways catching up to me faster than you can say 'did I just end that sentence in a preposition?'. Then I managed to catch up finally after a few days, but I could tell the passion just wasn't there anymore. The idea I loved, and the characters I thought had potential, but the way I was writing it just wasn't right. Part of the problem was a lack of an outline, which this particular story sorely needed in advance. And I couldn't seem to shut off my inner editor either, he's a nasty one, he is.

So I stopped. I didn't want to call it giving up, but that's what it was. I was embarrassed. I had made such a big deal out of participating! Now what was I going to do? Aside from cleaning the egg off my face . . .

Egg pictured here. Not actual size.

Well, I started thinking. Whenever something doesn't work out, I like to figure out why that is. I came to the conclusion that, at the moment, I'm suffering from a touch of writer's ADD. I lose interest quickly. Now I know I can write a full-length novel because I've done it. I have the discipline; I write every day. But lately, my style has been evolving, changing (whether for better or worse), and I've been trying to pretend otherwise to no success.

My mother has been telling me for years to try my hand at short stories, but I always sniffed at the idea. I'm a novelist, consarnit! My creativity cannot be contained in mere short stories, I said! I was wrong.

So I'm writing a short story right now, taking advantage of an older idea I loved but didn't think could fit the larger format of a novel. I'm rather enjoying it, too! I'm still a touch on the verbose side of things, but I can always cut later as necessity dictates. It's a learning process, as most things in life are.

My point with all this is that if I had never failed Camp NaNo, I might never have even considered writing a short story. That failure forced me to look inward, identify some of my own shortcomings, and figure out a way to work with them, rather than struggle in vain against them. And who knows? This failure might end up resulting in a different kind of success. For us artists, even when we lose, sometimes we win.

As the author and playwright Samuel Beckett said, "Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."