After being on this particular writer’s journey for several years, I’ve come to the disheartening realization that I’ve been stagnated for some years.
Part of that stagnation came through an attempt to move forward. Interestingly, the focus of my efforts actually put me into stagnation rather than progression. Very strange, I’ll admit, but the path is clearly visible in hindsight. (What isn’t?)
I thought improving prose was a key to improved storytelling. There are so many other factors to be considered, I simply didn’t have the target right. As I become more aware of storytelling as a whole, I now recognize the role of prose in the whole.
It’s not an uncommon thing for writers in the early development of a career to believe they’re “better” writers than the bestsellers. They compare prose and see their own superior to the published authors. Sometimes that’s the only comparison. I know for a fact that’s true with me.
I used to look at books I found on the bookstore or library shelves, look at what the words on the page were, and in my head I’d be editing. Cut this one, move that, reword this altogether…Sheesh, I thought, I’m going to be HUGE when someone gets a look at my work.
Of course, the absolute arrogance, the raw hubris of that statement, would make most people blush. But I’m not the only one who’s ever said it. I know plenty of writers, all of them unpublished, who said the same things. I know how horribly offended I was when someone I considered a “lesser” writer, of lower skill and ability and talent than me, called himself my peer. Yet I did the same thing with much more accomplished writers than I.
Meanwhile, I had a bunch of other writers offer me harsh criticism in my own work every time I ask them to read it. In truth, I wonder if there’s a bit of gleeful punishment that goes on with “critique” partners. I’m not saying others aren’t able to offer valuable criticism. I just wonder if some of it is harsher and more nitpicking than necessary, just to put a writer in their place, or perhaps in an attempt to demonstrate superiority.
I know I’ve done that to others. Instead of trying to help them, I set out to show them how flawed their writing was, how much better my skills were, my talent, my eye for…yada yada yada.
Anyway, I wonder if I got as good as I gave in those. Turnabout is fair play, etc. In the end, there were few circumstances where I actually improved my prose because of it, but only one circumstance I can recall where I learned something about storytelling from it.
Storytelling, of course, is the art of controlling what a reader is experiencing at any given time. Knowing what the reader needs in a story before they do. Answering the questions before they know to ask them – except when appropriate to leave the reader wondering as a technique of storytelling. Use of subtext. Use of any and all tools at the writer’s disposal to tell the story effectively and with control.
Control of the reader.
I don’t know if, as a writer, I was even aware of the reader on the other side of the story, and what they might be experiencing. I don’t know if I ever considered them. I had an idea for a story, I wrote it, and figured someone else, and hopefully enough someone elses for me to make a living doing this, would find what I wrote appealing and interesting. And of course, my prose is strong. Just ask me. *Eyeroll*
At this stage of my life, I’m weary of stagnation. In any area. So for me to finally discover a way to push through, move forward, and get someplace new? To say I’ve found a renewed sense of purpose for my writing is an understatement. A vast, broad-scoping understatement.
I’ve finally started moving forward in my writing again, after a long period of stagnation, by taking my focus off the words.
I’m excited about writing again. I know what’s possible. I know where I want to go with it, what I want to be as a writer, and where. I know I need to do more study and learning and practice, and even the idea of figuring out how to do that will be fun, in some ways. But I have to start, and as I go, I have to write.
With that in mind, I’ll be doing more with my blog again. Maybe posting short fiction pieces. A week, thereabout, seems a good amount of time to leave them up for free. I’ll try to create covers for them and get them up for sale in all the usual channels after that. I can’t promise how often I’ll post them, but we’ll see how it goes.
And then, there are books to write.
I guess it’s good to write books in a series. I have a series. In fact, I have two. So maybe those are the best places to start. I think it’s a fine place to start, actually. So I will.