"The notion that such persons are gay of heart and carefree is curiously untrue. They lead, as a matter of fact, an existence of jumpiness and apprehension. They sit on the edge of the chair of Literature. In the house of Life they have the feeling that they have never taken off their overcoats."
- James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Growing pains

I'm desperately trying to finish the fourth Peri Mystery and it's not going as fast as it needs to go. Sure, I'm down to the last third of the book, but it's like being in that dream where I'm running toward a door and it keeps getting further away. I was blaming a lot of things for the delay, from too much outside interference to illness. 

Then my friend Michael Steven Gregory wrote a blog post for the Southern California Writers Conference titled, "How Good is Good Enough?" You can read it here - http://writersconference.com/sd/sd-group-blog/how-good-is-good-enough-2/ but basically, Michael is asking the question all writers need to ask, and that's "why am I writing?" Depending on your answer, your final product ends up on the sliding scale of quick-read-entertaining vs word-as-art-beauty. 

I commented on the post as follows: 

This post makes me wonder where my goal is on this scale of "how good do you want to be." I realize my stories are what publishers call "midlist." To be honest, I'm more interested in my characters and in writing well. A part of me would love to write a literary tome, except I need my books to go somewhere and do something. In the meantime, I want people to enjoy my imaginary people and travel with them on their adventures, and I want to know that each book is better than the last.

And there's my problem: "...each book is better than the last." I want each book to be better, and that's good, except that being better means I must grow my writing skills. Growth is hard and it takes time and patience.

In the past, I moved from one scene to the next in my own very natural way. The good news is that my writing hand has a voice, one that people recognize. But now, I want the words to be more right, more lyrical without sounding like writing. I want to tell the story that makes people enjoy both the story and the telling of it.

I thought writing novels would get easier. Turns out, if I want to always improve, the work gets harder. Good thing growth requires persistence. 

I'm going to leave you with this interesting promo for a show I remember liking, even if it lasted barely a season. 

If you'll excuse me, I have to go persist.

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