I’ve been writing for about eight years now and have written seven complete novels and am mid-way through number eight. I’ve revised all but the first novel at least once (except for the one that’s still waiting!) and some of them several times.
My friends and I were talking one day about folks who write a novel and then rework it for years until it is perfect…and sometimes even sell it. My first novel has a few strokes of genius in it, but seriously? You don’t want to read it. What makes the difference? Is it just that I am lazy and always want to chase something new?
I’ll be honest. Doubtless that has something to do with it. I don’t have the most patience in the world. But I’ve come to believe there’s something deeper than that. A discussion came up at the How to Think Sideways boards about the difference between writers and storytellers. I’ve come to believe that it may well be the storytellers who can take that first novel and polish it up. Why? Because the story at the heart of the work is sound; it just needs a lot of help to bring the soul out where others can see it and share its passion.
Whereas–or this is my theory, at any rate–I think that someone who is primarily a writer can make nearly anything sound pretty good right out of the box. The issue–for me at least–is the question of whether the plot hangs together. And if the plot is wobbly, if the characters are being forced into acting the way they need to for the outcome to happen, no number of revisions is going to save it. The heart of it is rotten.
That’s my theory.
In a related vein comes the elusive concept of The Muse. I suggest that the folks who are primarily storytellers have a better connection with the right side of their brain, the creative side. The Muse. And so I’ve been working (’cause WORKING helps to stimulate creativity–yes, that’s a joke…) on connecting more with my Muse. (Her name is Rosie–more on her in the next month or so!)
As I started mulling over this more and more a few months ago, it seemed natural that this would be a topic I could use for an upcoming workshop at Forward Motion being as I was scheduled to teach but didn’t yet have a firm plan. The 6-week workshop entitled Me, My Muse, and I will start Monday, May 4th, and you have to be a member of FM to participate. It’s free, though, and there are tons of other resources there that make the website extremely valuable to writers of many stripes.
In conjunction with the workshop, I’ve emailed a bunch of writers I know–some published, some contracted, some almost there–and asked them if they’d be willing to guest blog here In My Little World on the topic of working with their muse, basically creative thinking. If I didn’t invite you and you’d like to guest blog here over the next couple of weeks or so, email me (addy under Contact Me in the header). I’m open to more participation, but didn’t want to become a nuisance to everyone I know! 😛
I believe comments here are set up so that you need to create an account the first time for me to confirm. After that, your comments should post fine with no moderation. I’ve only been set up on this site for a couple of weeks and already I’ve been blocking spam comments, so please bear with the hoop-jumping.
My first guest, posting Thursday, will be Karen Hancock, author of five speculative novels published by Bethany House. Number 6, The Enclave, is due out this summer.