Saturday, November 19, 2011
On Progressing as a Writer
So I was thinking about it today and I have come to a decision. I think I am a better writer today than I was a year ago.
I know that must sound like a really obvious statement, but you have to look at this in perspective. When you are progressing as a writer it typically comes along very slowly. Your projects often take several weeks at a time, and it takes several weeks more to get most kinds of feedback on it. Often, aside from your own opinions on the subject, you don't have a lot of benchmarks to measure yourself by. It can seem like you are just running on a treadmill in terms of your skill, running and running until you wonder if you will ever have a chance to improve. That and there is this creeping fear that it is just as easy to lose your skill as it is to gain it, and that it could have happened to you.
Fortunately, I don't think that has happened to me. Wolfhound, is my first publishable quality novel. I've made it pretty much as good as it will be, and I feel confident that Jacob Hull will do a very good job of leading the way for my other stories to follow. Kingsley and Iron Angels both came afterward, and I can confidently say that the level of skill I've shown in those books is higher than Wolfhound, which given how good that first book is, really says something. Of course, they are also different types of books, so I could imagine that I was just finding a better kind of story to tell. The tipping point, I would have to say, was Badger, the sequel to Wolfhound. It's the same kind of story that Wolfhound was, though perhaps a bit less heavily structured, but it's just plain better. The characters stand out more, the plot is more balanced and understandable, and is all around a better story. I've gotten better!
I think I have had quite a few advantages that have helped me do that. My writing group has been a big part of that. The advice, suggestions and reactions of my fellow writers in that group have helped me to tweak my own writing style and grow as an author. The fact that I have been working flat out for about a full year on four different stories has helped me continue to improve--I didn't need to remember things that I'd learned with a previous project, because there hadn't been any downtime where I would have forgotten it. Finally, I've kind of had the desperation and determination provided by the fact that in a very short time I was going to have to start selling these things. That kind of need to produce things in order to publish on time breeds plenty of motivation to get better in the craft.
So yeah, I've gotten better at writing. Here's hoping that I can continue that progress as Wolfhound and my other stories start coming up over the next year. We shall have to see!