Editing sometimes brings out the worst in us. Believe me, I know. I have yet to undergo an editing process for a novel that didn’t involve some form of feeling like a total failure and/or fraud and/or consider retiring altogether. I think it’s just the nature of the beast, and the real crux of the editing matter is just getting through it.
Last week I found myself despairing just a bit, feeling discouraged about the direction of Room 3. In short, I felt as though patching one hole in the boat would cause a new hole somewhere else, and sooner or later the whole boat would sink. I couldn’t help but think that none of this would have happened if I had deliberately chosen easier subject matter – the whole closed room/two people approach is a difficult one for even the most seasoned of writers. What was I thinking?
I’ll tell you what: I thought I wanted to do something challenging. In many ways, while Corridors of the Dead might have seemed complex, that was right in my wheelhouse and not especially challenging. I wanted to do something more difficult to help myself grow. So now I find (or found) myself facing the essential artist’s dilemma: Which is better? Challenge yourself in order to grow and perhaps fail in execution, or write the safe stuff and get more sales? This goes beyond just the writing…it’s a fundamental question of how I want to spend my life: do I risk boredom to write commercially safe stuff or risk failure with more challenging stuff? At this point, my free time doesn’t allow me to write both styles of book. I have to choose.
A friend pointed out that the former might be more rewarding, but you have to be willing to put with negative reactions/receptions/reviews. Framed that way, the answer became clear: negative reactions won’t deter me – I’m ultimately doing it for my own personal growth, and any “success” is secondary to that. This helps me to realize just why I’m doing this: to grow as an artist and try new things. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to be able to make a living at this, but I have a pretty good job that I enjoy. I can afford to push boundaries a little more. I just need to be an advocate for that approach in my own work.
Now, I’m not somehow saying that I’m blazing new literary paths, or saying that you plebes just can’t understand my genius – good lord, no. I would never be so bold (or arrogant). I’m purely referring to challenging myself, to seeing what I can and can’t do. Pushing the boundaries of my own abilities, as it were. I’m going to continue down that path. If I lose readers? Well, at least it will be an interesting method of failing.
And now for something completely different: Found Music has updated again! The blog rolls on with a new domain, found-music.net, and a new artist this week: Fairfax, VA band Smartbomb.
This week I’m excited to bring you a chunk of pop punk/power pop goodness from Fairfax, VA band SmartBomb. I’ve known about SmartBomb from the early 00s, probably 00 or 01, when I stumbled across them thanks to friend Bryan Smith of the bands ebo, American Giant, and the Vicious Martinis. I don’t remember exactly how Bryan was tied to this – ebo might have played a show with them, I’m not sure, as they ran in the same circles. But I ended up picking up their fairly wide release, Yeah Well Anyway. I liked it, but was a little baffled that it didn’t contain the songs that I had heard from them.
Well, turns out they had a much smaller, limited indie release, “Here Comes the Slapback”.
Head on over and check it out!