was hilarious when I got up... and then very moving down toward the bottom.
I also compare writers to wizards or magicians sometimes. It feels like that. Something out of nothing. All those years I didn't have the power, I wouldn't know why. But I think I'm approaching why I had trouble writing back when I was an Obnoxious Wannabe Writer at SF cons dragging around sweatstained, sometimes handwritten manuscripts, begging the pros or even someone stuck in a registration line with me to read it.
I really was that geek. Now I look at that as growth. I had a metaphor for it in something I wrote, don't remember where it is. Maybe it's in Holly Lisle's Vision
in one of the back issues. You can tell, looking at those cute little sea turtles that crawl by the hundreds toward the ocean past the hungry gulls, that any of them could grow up to be several hundred pound turtles gulls can only perch on. They have everything they need to be turtles.
The need to write is there for any newbie.
The fear no one
will like it is a false fear that turns so many of them back.
I wasted a lot of years having adventures when I could have been writing. Okay, maybe those years weren't really wasted. I have today. I have the stuff I've already written just begging to get picked up and rewritten, because I'm a better writer than I was yesterday. I'm even literally a better rewriter than I was yesterday, I had a great critique on a story that I thought was done and perfect and ready to go out. My friend found dozens of little places where my story could be improved. I was overjoyed. I was amazed at the improvements. I am almost done with the rewrite, have a tiny bit of research to do that was an obvious wallop between my eyes. The story is a historical. The story, most of it, hangs on a setting of 14th century France as seen through the ruminating eyes of a reasonably old vampire. She found a spot where a line or two mentioning some of the news of the time would deepen it wonderfully. Yes. People who like historical fiction like having a little research salted in there! It matters who was King in England even if the story's in France, certainly any Frenchman is going to be looking over his shoulder at England wondering when they're going to pull another invasion. Leaving it out is like writing in 1952 without the fear of Communists, doesn't work - and so that little bit of layered detail is kicking that one up to the next level. And leaves me with the chore of hunting through my books for the original reference that led to my writing the story and then reading back and forth a bit till I get the shifting, messy medieval politics right for the date I set the story, two years after the historical event.
Someone nasty once said to me years ago, "You don't want to write. You want to have written."
He was wrong. I wanted to write and needed a little support - a valid, genuine emotional need for a bit of hope to get past the point I was to the point I am today. When I have to do other things, I'd rather be writing. I enjoy the process. I write well enough that I like reading what I've written and I've also consistently got a screaming desire to make it better.
There is toxic perfectionism and there is craftsmanship perfectionism.
They get confused easily. Toxic perfectionism is something almost everyone in my place and time breathes in daily. You can't turn on the television set without skilled, persuasive actors and writers telling you that you are going to be shunned and laughed at if you don't wear the right clothes, use the right products and smell perfect according to their company's line of products to improve your social standing. You can't grow up in this country without going to school and immediately getting thrown into a vicious playground. Grief, tragedy, injustice and loss can happen to anyone, but doesn't it say something that there's an entire named disease, anorexia nervosa, that consists of an obsession with losing weight to become skinnier than anyone else? Maybe anorexics get into the cycle because in losing weight, that's filling a need for constant small daily successes at something they can actually do, lose weight. That's a paraphrased comment from an older anorexic in an article on anorexia. The original motive might have been to please other people who used to call the anorexic fat and tease them, but by the time they've gone that far it's to please an internal critic whose standards are impossible - and to keep feeding their own self opinion with progress.
Turn that kind of energy to something productive that won't kill you and it becomes emotional insulation against a thousand social attacks.
Nobody is perfect. You can't live and breathe and be real and be perfect. No one is universally loved. Even when they're dead and enshrined like William Shakespeare, there's some people who like you and some who don't. Someone somewhere hates you for the color of your skin. Doesn't matter what color your skin, there are bigots of every color too and some of them are yours. There are some attractive people of the opposite sex that despise your gender categorically. They're fairly common actually, since a common cause is breaking up from a bad relationship. The school bullies grow up and often manage to turn a predatory attitude in life into a position where they've got power over other people. They get that because they want it. Pushing other people around becomes the success kick just like losing weight does for the anorexic. They're not loved, but they like being feared and what worked as a kid works as an adult. They tend to get their way. They tend to want it enough to do anything to get it.
Humans make things, build things, create from an idea and some raw materials something they and other human beings like. The little success kick when it comes from something creative will generally get real approval at the point when it's starting to be a usable something. For writers, it's entertainment, stories that have something to say and most of all are fun to read.
Beginners at anything aren't good at it. Talent is wanting to do that so badly that you're willing to put up with your own beginner efforts long enough to learn how. A big part of that is seeing the glass as half full. It's better than last time is a success kick. It's better than last time is a success kick that won't go away if you get to be as good a writer as Sheila Viehl.
But there is a threshold of self acceptance where the story that's reeling out in its first draft is fun in itself. For me, that took an indefinable level of craft. I can't say exactly when I started liking my stories. I know though, that I didn't manage to finish any until I started sporadically hitting that point and getting some internal successes. That was mood for many years. I'd drift in and out of the wannabe and writer states over and over, because it depended so much on my general confidence at the time and a thousand other things. I write when I'm miserable. I write when I'm stressed, because I want to read that particular story and no one else in the world has written it or could. Or, I write when I'm high and happy and the world's good because I had a neat idea and cool as the world is, I've forgotten it's out there for that great little high of writing a book or story I can't put down. But the more often I did it, the easier it was to do it the next time. The fewer sour notes hit the page. The more likely it was actually a readable rough, the more likely I'd stick to it and get it done.
I'm between novels right now, looking at a schedule that feels a little frustrating. I know that my next novel is going to be the Breakout Novel Course project at Forward Motion for Writers
whether I'm accepted to the course or just sign up and audit the course. It's a tough course. It's got the excitement factor of trying to achieve a whole new level of skill. I know I'm going to get that out of it, because I enjoy classes. I read the book and loved the book it's based on. I am as prepared as I can get for this, and in a few days I'll be doing the audition project. I've got a critique on the audition chapter already and it's a nice tough critique. I have sound reasons in my own experience to expect to come out of the Breakout Novel Class with a new novel project that's going to knock my socks off, then hopefully knock the socks off of a good professional agent and some publishers.
Total unequivocal success in all those objectives would do a lot more, change my life and my status out in the real world I've been avoiding as dramatically as publishing Raven Dance
did. When I had a literal book to show people, other people believed I was a writer. I didn't get people laughing at me for trying
to become a writer. I had demonstrably written a novel. Most of them haven't read it, but when I have to deal with the folks who take care of the disabled, it's proof that I have a job. A pro sale is going to have a similar effect on them. Proof I can work that job professionally and they shouldn't try to shunt me off into Web Page Design or technical writing or something else that isn't the job I made for myself. Fact is, I'm a lousy technical writer. When I write, my style is much more impressionistic and I'm more concerned with getting an abstract idea across with a lot of bright, fun, fanciful images and wild events than getting the facts right.
I am also a decent Sunday painter, who never wanted to be an artist. I have respect for people who write fiction as a hobby, who go for the pleasure of doing it and then sharing their projects with friends or dabble in selling them and don't seriously expect major success. They've got the success kick. They do enjoy it in the middle of doing it, spend many long pleasant hours at it, do get approval and compliments and sometimes sales. Once in a while a hobbyist may become so skilled just by enjoying the hobby that they evolve into professionals because they get good at it! When I think of that, it strikes me that might be the garden path to it anyway. It wasn't mine, but I respect it.
Thoughts for the day. Yet another rambling warmup. I'm off... happy writing!
Robert and Ari >^..^<