I finished a novel manuscript. I don't like it. I'm not sure why, other than maybe it's not doing what I set out to do as well as I would like. I like what I set out to do, and I like parts of the thing I'm reading now as I go back through, but there's still a nagging "Not yet" that holds me back.
I'm working on another one, too. Same sort of thing. It's just underway, but I already feel like I'm explaining too much, telling too much, and not just living and breathing the story the way I had originally felt it in the planning stages. I want to tell this story, I really do, but if it doesn't feel right, then I might as well wait until it does.
Which is what I'm going to do.
Oh, I'll still make forward progress on both of them, but I'm currently in a learning cycle again. Every so often, you have to really rethink your craft, re-see the things you do that you take for granted. You have to ask if there's a better way to do it while still maintaining whatever spark it is that separates your style of storytelling from all the others out there. I'm recapturing ideas that I know pretty well and have read in theory and in practice from other writers. I'm even thinking of rereading a book I read earlier this year (Lush Life by Richard Price) because the way he told the story has stuck with me, and I want to take another run at it, take the book apart, see how the magic works.
I'm a big fan of Penn and Teller for several reasons, but the one thing about their magic act is that they claim to show us how they perform the trick. But the explanation is never actually how they really did it, so that's another form of slight of hand right there. You're supposed to know the answer now, but you still don't, and perhaps you're even further boggled because of this new layer of magic on top of the first.
Isn't that the best writing, too? The stuff that looks so easy that you don't realize how difficult it is?
I guess what I'm saying is that for these new works, I want to be a better magician.
Which writers give you that sense of "making the complex look simple"?
Friday Bonus Non-Music Video: