So let’s just get full disclosure out of the way first: today’s entry is based on a writing prompt from tomslatin.com. I stumbled upon that prompt thanks to an entry on reddit’s writing subreddit, so it’s followed a somewhat tortured path to get here, and I’m going to torture it a little more before we’re finished.
The prompt, paraphrased, was this: if you could change one thing about your writing, what would it be, and what would you do if later on you changed your mind?
It wasn’t about writing originally, but you get the picture. Applied to writing, the concept intrigued me. What would I change? It seems the obvious thing, the thing that all of us would wish for, is a heightened sense of execution. I think you know what I mean – that ability to take the great ideas we have in our heads and turn them into a finely tuned machine of a story. Given how these grand ideas become muddled between head and page, that’s #1 with a bullet, but that seems to be something that improves both with age and experience, so it’s hard to wish your life away for that one.
The second, I suppose, would be to have a keener eye about content, which could also fall under execution. By that I mean that I often get bogged down in the technical issues of grammar which are, of course, important, but I can sometimes hone a fine sentence without paying enough attention to the content itself. It’s certainly a forest-for-the-trees situation, and I think why I was having trouble capturing an agent during my first go-through. This is something I’m changing in the overhaul version of the novel by casting aside all formality and the patina of professionalism in favor of a rawer, more emotional form.
I think my point is that I understand now why so many successful novels come across as a little rushed and sloppy: because the authors have focused on the content itself and left the technical considerations to one side. I had become the equivalent of a Malmsteen or a Satriani: highly technical, but without the broader view of what the work might bring to the table. I’d like to be something more like a Ramones and bring some more passion to my work. Perhaps that is what my response boils down to: I want to be able to bring the emotion that I feel for a story out on the page. It’s there. It always has been. The question is, how to get that out?
That’s my next-fondest wish, which, I suppose, comes around to execution after all. It’s the circle of liiiiiifffeeeee….
If this doesn’t legitimize self-publishing, nothing will. Great news.
Today’s link! Brainpan Leakage, by M.R. Sellars, author of the Rowan Grant Investigations. The site has some great style and self-deprecating humor. A must-read!