Monthly Archives: April 2012

Older, Wiser – More Banal?

So another year has come and gone, and I turned 26 on Sunday.  Now, I’m not one of those women who get anxious about each coming year, worrying about visible effects of aging – although at 26 I’d be anxious to discover any at all! – no, what worries me is that the older I get the more banal my career as a writer becomes.

I was a precocious child, always reading beyond my age level and as a writer I enjoyed that it gave me access to higher levels of vocabulary, subject matter and depth in even the sillier pieces I wrote as a teenager.  I decided that my goal in life was to become a published author by age 16.

Needless to say that didn’t happen.  As I got older I kept moving that significant age; if I couldn’t be published at 16 then maybe 18, 21, 25.  Now I’m 26, and I find that I’m on the wrong side of my twenties to maintain these milestones.  Who cares if a 30 year old gets published?  It’s banal and unremarkable.

So I’m trying to convince myself it doesn’t matter, which obviously it doesn’t in the real scheme of things.  In terms of the big picture, it’s the writing itself that is important, blah blah, yes I know.  But you tell that to the 16 year  old who was determined to be a published author and wanted to stand next to her idols, authors three times her age, with her chin up going, “Ha!  I’m as good as you!”  She’d have kicked your face in, and with the kind of massive gothic boots I used to wear back then you would have been lucky to escape with your life.

In hindsight, however, I wasn’t as good as the published authors I idolised.  My writing at 16 read pretty much exactly like the writing of a 16 year old, albeit a very smart 16 year old, I’ll give myself that.   And I know I’d rather be a good writer than merely a young writer, only published for the novelty of age than for the quality of the writing (coughcoughchristopherpaolinicoughcough).

But it still feels like with every passing year I get older, wiser – and more banal.

Happy birthday to me!

An Ode to an Ode

Some of you may know that sometimes I write Odes to Inanimate Objects. Today, I’m writing an Ode… to an Ode:

An Ode to an Ode

An Ode to an Ode;
A jest to a jest.
Hiding behind word-play
To escape seriousness.

Writing novels is tricky
But Odes are just fun,
So I’d rather write Odes than the
Bazillionth novel I’ve begun.

How can you blame me?
Odes are short and witty.
Novels are long and hard,
Writing them is rarely pretty.

So here I am, writing this
Instead of what I should be.
Hoping that at the end
I’ll at least feel happy

That I’ve written something
At all, instead of watch tv,
Or drink beer in the afternoon
Which is tempting me.

I’ll probably still do these things,
But at least I can say,
To myself if no one else: Hey,
I’ve written a freaking Ode today.

Dusting Off The Old Blog, Fancy Chickens and Finishing

Oh dearest much-neglected Blog, even the spambots have forgotten about your presence!  I find it a source of amusement and wry disappointment that the only search terms still bringing the rare visitor are “fancy chickens” (my number 1 search term, I’ll have you know) and today’s best one: “hot girl falconry”.

But this is supposed to be a writer’s blog!  About writing!  Not that I ever stay on topic, as noted by the aforementioned search terms.  But this is why my poor blog has been ignored so much recently, I simply haven’t been writing.  However, today I’ve sat down with grim determination to plow ahead with Cobault and make headway towards actual progress.

It should be easy.  If “should” was ever an indicator of something actually being what it “should” be.  I’ve already written Cobault, after all!  But I wrote it slapdashedly, in a month, and the resulting narrative was rushed, lacking complexity and depth.  As one might expect.  Its initial 30-odd pages were alright, written in that optimistic high of a new project that seems, in my experience, to create the most exciting and dynamic prose.  In reality this is because you haven’t had time to get caught up by twisty plotlines, you rarely introduce all the characters that you’ll be juggling right from the beginning, and you can set up everything without having to worry about its distant labyrithian conclusion.

In short, you’re just fooling yourself.

So I kept those 30-odd pages roughly as-is and have been trying to go from there.  I also liked a certain section of my original conclusion, specifically a character I brought out for that purpose, as well as the resolved dynamic of my main characters whose love story was to be as natural and tragic as Twilight‘s Edward-Bella was farcical and banal. Which is saying a lot.

In short, I had a beginning and I had (parts of) an ending.  It’s that tricky between bit I’m working on now, where all those twisty plots reside and all my characters frolic so.  Although it feels more like they’re twiddling their thumbs and waiting for me, rather that frolicking.  I sometimes wish that my characters would just take form and play out their drama for me, so my task could be simplified into simply recording and not inventing.

Inventing is hard!  It’s messy and slow at times, fast and confusing at others.  I try to think, “How can this be interesting???” and find myself puzzling for actual months while my characters stay poised in limbo.  This is what was happening during my hiatus.

I should say, inventing isn’t hard at all – it’s inventing something good and worthwhile that’s the hard bit.  I could rush out another month-long session of panicked writing, but it wouldn’t be an improvement on my first hurried draft, merely its sibling.  I know I can write, but write well?  And after I write what I think is excellent prose, will it still be excellent in a day/week/month/year from now?  Subjectivity is a bitch, because I keep changing and so does my writing – which is a good thing, I grant you – but it means that my drafts are in a constant state of flux.  Nothing gets finished, because I’m not finished!

So this begs the question – will I ever finish a novel???  I have four novels, all of them “completed” but none of them finished.  I have to find a point where I’m satisfied in the here-and-now, and then just let it go.  Is this possible when I’m never satisfied?  I suppose I’ll have to learn to be.