Friday, June 25, 2010

Friday! Random!

Sometimes, writing a novel is like suffering through a long illness. You are weak, exhausted and see no end to your misery, but you have no choice but to stagger along, day after day into the future.

Sometimes I can tell when I've written well or written poorly. Most of the time, however, I have no way to judge. It's all just writing and though I can get excited about new ideas I have while drafting, I feel mostly neutral about the actual prose during the writing itself. I can see that something needs to be changed, and I can see how, but I don't think of it in terms of "good" or "bad" so much as "works" or "doesn't work." Those times when I do think the prose is brilliant or is crap? I've discovered that later, when I'm revising or just re-reading, I can no longer tell which bits I thought were brilliant or crap when I was in the middle of writing it. So how I feel about the work while it's in process has nothing, it seems, to do with the quality of the writing. Which is just weird, you know?

Sometimes I go out for pints with other writers. Thursday night I met up with Layne Maheu (author of Song of the Crow) and over Manny's Ale and a plate of nachos we talked about his latest novel A Man of the World (which sounds brilliant and cool) and my novel The Stars Are Fire (which, after two pints, sounded brilliant and cool to me) and the future of publishing and all sorts of things. Layne was treats, so I should've had a third pint, but today is a school day so it's probably for the best that I didn't.


  1. You are weak, exhausted and see no end to your misery, but you have no choice but to stagger along, day after day into the future.

    This is exactly where I am right now.

  2. Last night I was writing a death scene and it was such a strange situation. The victim volunteers to be killed, but when the time comes he's surprised by how much it hurts. I intended it to be high drama, but as I was writing I really couldn't tell if it was serious or just ridiculously funny.

  3. This post feels surprisingly timely to my life. I'm currently drafting a piece and worrying about whether or not the writing is working. This is a first for me, because usually I more like what you described and can't tell until the revisions.

    By the by, there's an award for the staff of the Literary Lab on my blog.

  4. Mmm, nachos sound really good right now. I can never tell if my writing is good or bad, and usually, the more people tell me it's good the less I believe that it is. I think it's something that constantly shifts in a writer's head, and who knows who actually determines quality. No one, really. This is depressing. I need to go each some nachos.

  5. Oh, if anyone is interested, I have a guest post over at The Secret Archives of the Alliterati:

  6. Rick: Our server kept pushing pints at us. It wasn't our fault. Honest.

    Loren: That's where I spend far too much of my time. I want to finish the draft I'm on so that I don't have to be writing for a while.

    Big D: I've written scenes that other people found funny but were meant to be serious, and it baffles me. The reverse has also happened. My advice is to just write the scene. Maybe, deep down, you believe it's absurd and that's coming out, which wouldn't be a bad thing. I mean really.

    Dominique: Thanks for the award! We don't post them but we surely appreciate them!

    I am trying to train myself to hold off qualitative judgements until revisions. Still working on it.

    Ivana: Nachos are good! I don't know why this is depressing to you. No, there are apparently no objective standards. Which means that I don't have to be ashamed of the trashy mystery novel I'll be reading next week.

  7. Hmm, that was an interesting typo of mine up there. Not sure how you "each" some nachos. I'd like to eat them, though.

    I guess it isn't depressing about quality. It's nice to know there's not some supreme power deciding these things.

  8. So when are we going to grab some beers?

  9. I can't imagine being objective about my own writing. I'd like to be, but I don't expect it'll ever happen. That's why it is so important to have writerly friends who are honest with me about my work.

    It seems as though you have a lot of good support for your writing also Scott.

    Davin: your post at Secret Archives was deeply moving. Thank you for sharing your writing experience on such an intimate level.

    Good luck with the Rooster request. I'm sure its a beautiful book.


  10. I need more writerly drinking buddies. I shall start trolling local writers' groups immediately.

  11. Andrew: I don't know, but we need to figure that out! Pints make for better writing. It's true. Science says so.

  12. I'm on my first draft now which is a good way for me to accept poor writing. I really just want to get the story down. I have my weak days even thru this process.


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