The fact that an elephant can learn how to balance itself on a small cabaret chair is probably just as hard to explain as is what I consider myself to be strong at. Perhaps characters, or plot? Backgrounds or grammatical correctness? How can one be strong in one without using other parts of your literal work to support it?
A book is a complete project, where nothing is necessary, yet everything is necessity. You can take out a background or characters or plot twists without loosing a book, but if one is missing, others must fill the void. It’s a novel nevertheless. I’ve read a good experimental novel that consisted nothing but dialog – no descriptions, no character was named or background given. Yet it was wonderful experience and it made my imagination go wild.
At the same time I’ve read books that had all the literal elements, but I couldn’t bare them much longer past the first pages. I felt I was cheating the writer, who had put so much love in his work and it tore my heart to know that I just couldn’t read it.
So how can I judge my own works, in what I’m lacking or what I need to improve? Judging itself isn’t the problem, I do it all the time, but acting up on it is different story.
I have kept all my works I’ve written since 1996. I pick them up every now and then and read what I wrote in the beginning and compare it whit what I write now. It is two very different worlds and third world that’s all in-between. I’m glad I kept them. Reading them, I see the odd stages I’ve gone through as a writer. It’s like Picasso’s painting periods – blue, rose, African influenced. In my instant – studying emotions, characters, descriptions and dialog. Only thanks to seeing them do I understand that there is no one thing I could be better at without developing others further. Only if they become equally strong have I good book that many would like to read.
Perhaps that’s the reason why it has taken so long for me to get to where I am now – finishing the second manuscript to send off to publisher. First one didn’t go through and, well, I’m glad it didn’t. But without it I wouldn’t be working on this one either.
The pork is judged after the big is slain. Same way the writer is judged when the book is out and everybody can have a say on it. There will be plenty of folks, who just can’t wait to cry “why did I put so much trust in that guy?”. Before this happens, everything can feel like big mistakes and everything will look weak and hopeless. I can only hope that some of the weaknesses can become strengths one day. Until that time comes, I can only work and build on the bones.
Today’s post is my response to the prompt on “What I Do Best (My Writing Strengths)” this month’s topic for the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour. Throughout the month, you can get to know twenty (or so) other writers from various genres and backgrounds and at various places in their careers.
Next stop on the tour is B.C. Matthews on September 21st, 2012