Post Tournament Blues
With the International tournament come and gone, I’ve returned to my blue humdrum routine of every day life. Gone are the exciting days of watching damn decent Dota and replaced with work, work and more work. Which is to say I have nothing to say. So I decided I would keep my entry today short and just let you in on what I’m actually doing.
My previous posts have mentioned that during the month of April I wrote a full length novel as both a challenge to myself and part of April’s Write a Novel in a Month. This is not to be confused with Nanowrimo – National Novel Writing Month – which takes place in November. It was, in essence, a practice month to get used to the real challenge come late autumn. Technically, you could write whatever you wanted and they encouraged a lower word limit than the actual Novel Month.
Of course, I am hardly one to follow recommendations for things. I took it upon myself to not only exceed that month’s suggestions but to almost double Nanowrimo’s goals as well. Mostly to see if I could. Also, it meant that I hit my goal of ‘one new novel a year’ pretty early.
Course, following that challenge I was burnt out so I took a small hiatus which lined up with my east coast vacation particularly well. Following that, I began writing a novella which I plan on using later this year. This took the better part of a month and a half and upon completing that I am back to doing my submission for Writers of the Future. Once I finish that up, my goal is to clean up the novella and get it into a publishable form. I’ll then have about a month to edit my novel from April before fated Nanowrimo is upon us.
And I have every intention of participating in that again this year. I have some ideas of what I want to do, I just have to do the preliminary research before hand. The rest of the year will likely be spent editing the April novel. Editing, as I’ve come to realize, takes almost as much if not more time than the actual writing.
But this has brought me to a startling revelation. I think my writing is improving. Not a claim I’d make lightly but going through the first draft of my April novel, I don’t feel as frustrated with it as I did with my first novel. I even have a clear plan of things I want to tweak, fix and rework but the overall cohesiveness is well and beyond what I had on my first run with Thyre.
And speaking with Kait, I’ve come to realize that perhaps this is to be expected. When writing Thyre I had essentially taken the final step of all my years leading up to it. I have pages and pages of half completed ideas and scribes. I have collections of shorts that go nowhere and started stories that just vanish after twenty pages. For years I’ve been scribbling and typing but never completing. Thyre was that last painful push before giving way to my first ever creation. It was long. It was painful. And I suppose I’ll never experience anything like it again.
This brings me to a point I wanted to make. I am, first and foremost, a writer. I enjoy creating and communicating. This isn’t really surprising given my passion but what I am not is a reader. I consume on average one or two books a year. This, I feel, would probably startle a lot. After all, most people I know that get into writing are readers first. They want to try their hand at their own book after reading piles and piles of their favourite authors and genres. And there was a time when I was fairly voracious in my reading too.
However, over the last few years, I don’t really read for pleasure. I read for research and for analysis. While I enjoy the analytical aspect of it, it starts to border the problem that English Literature students face. When given a story to critically examine and deconstruct, the original goal of entertainment gets shuffled aside to make way for thesis arguments and supporting evidence. Stories that, on their own are exciting, become a thing to dread. They become work.
I had worried that my reluctance to read would hinder my own budding skills. So I pressed on with a few books every now and then, leaning towards something with literary significance so that I could tell myself that even if I wasn’t reading a lot at least I was reading well. But, while many authors will tell you that it helps to be well read when writing, I don’t think it’s a prerequisite. Ultimately, writing is no different than any other craft. You examine the great works to see their technique. But you’ll never learn their skill by merely looking at it alone. In the end, Picasso and Michelangelo needed their canvases and masonry. They needed the brush and the chisel in their hand to improve.
And a writer is the same. You can get only so far by reading but at some point you need to start creating on your own. Trial by fire is the real way to learn what works and what doesn’t. It’s through self experimentation, examination and execution that your craft is honed and polished. I can read all the novels I want, but they never prepared me for the difficulties and toil of creating my own. And having come out the other side weary, beaten but triumphant I look upon the next challenge not as the insurmountable mountain that I had originally seen but as a new summit ever close to my grasp.
So, long story short is if you want to get better my advice is to just get writing.