Sometimes when you just explore, you actually find your way
So last night I ended up writing out about 1,000 more words of that short story idea I had a couple of weeks ago. I re-read them this morning, and they’re mostly good.* That’s not always the case with things like this. Often I’ll write something and when I read it I’ll realize it’s total garbage. This isn’t bad, mind you. It keeps me convinced that I can still mostly recognize terrible writing when I see it, which is important.
I’m not entirely sure, but I think I’m about 1/3 of the way done with the story; at least if it takes the direction I think it’s going to take. That may sound strange, but I’ve found that when I’m doing my best writing I feel like I’m discovering a story more that recounting it. I am, after all, not particularly good at outlines. And I like to explore ideas, which can sometimes take me down terrible sidetracks.
For instance, I have about 10,000 words of my novel that are completely unusable due to the fact that they make no sense in the context of the greater story. I didn’t know they were going to be unusable, and as I was writing those couple of chapters I was actually pretty pleased with myself. But once I stepped back for a while and took a look at them I realized that my main character was getting himself lost is a tangent that I couldn’t get him out of. It was a bit depressing; but again, at least I knew enough to know that they weren’t going to work.
And I think that’s really important. We all want to do good work, but we have to be able to recognize when we do something that isn’t. I hope I do a fairly good job of that here on the blog, but I know that things have gotten through and seen the light of day that weren’t up to the kind of quality standards that I’d like to keep. Not that I dwell on it. Part of the reason for doing this blog is to make mistakes and to learn from them.
Like anything else I’ve done and enjoyed, I’m exploring here. I like to learn, and the best way to learn is to do it wrong a few times so that you can know when you’ve finally done it right. And hopefully after a while, I’ll do it right a lot more often than not. I trust you’ll let me know either way.
* But not all good, or course. I found this in those 1,000 words too, which I think is just dreadful – He let me into morgue at about a quarter past 11. It was raining, because why wouldn’t it be? That’s why we edit, people…