Monday, August 21, 2006

A Simple Introduction

I should probably start with some sort of introductory post.

I'm a writer. I think I've always been a writer, really, which is something I'm willing to bet a lot of writers will say they have in common. It's only been over the last six or seven years, though, that I really started taking myself seriously, and even within that time, it's probably been only three years since my serious side has taken itself seriously.

Back in 2000 or so, I made a failed attempt at writing a novel. I kind of liked the idea, though, so I tried retooling the same premise and then tried writing again. Once more, it failed (with less progress made than my first attempt). A third attempt yielded still less. I was discouraged.

In my frustration at my inability to complete any of these novel drafts, I decided instead to try my hand at short stories, just so I could experience the satisfaction of saying that I'd finished something. In the back of my mind, I think I'd always thought of short stories as a "lesser" form of storytelling, and so I never gave them much credence. So, for a while, my idea was to spend time "dabbling" with short stories until I shook the whatever-it-was in my brain loose so that I could go back to writing "real" fiction.

Well, it didn't take very long for me to realize how wrong I was about the validity of short stories. Maybe it's just because I hadn't read very many; maybe it's because I just fell into the assumption that bigger was better. Whatever the case, I eventually got over that misguided notion, and once I got an appreciation for what a short story could be, my ability to write them probably went up accordingly. And so, from then on, for the next many years, I continued to write such stories, enjoying it quite a bit.

I think I first heard about NaNoWriMo in 2003. It struck me as something I should probably do, just so I could say that I did it, and to say that I put a bunch of words down on paper. Well, November came and went that year and I didn't do anything. The same happened in 2004 and in 2005. I guess I just wasn't motivated to write a big huge piece just for the novelty (no pun intended) of having written it--again, the ironic twist of actually enjoying and appreciating my own short stories came back at me.

When I did finally get the idea for a novel that I wanted to write (in a novel-writing sense, not in a '50,000 random words that happened to be written in November' sense), I was struck with the new notion that I didn't actually know how to write a novel. This would explain, in retrospect, why I was never able to get it right the first time, but even before attempting again after having hit my writing groove, I knew instinctively that the process of writing a novel wasn't the same as writing a short story and just making it longer. I don't know if I can explain it to someone who's never written much, but it is both a very different mindset and a very different constructive process that goes into it.

So, I've come a long way, I've learned a lot, and I know I've still got a long ways to go. I've heard people say that you can't really be a writer until you're thirty; if that's the case, I still have three years to go, and I'd be very impatient for all of them. Still, I do recognize that a lot of what I do is far from polished, and I hope that in those next three years I make a lot of progress.

Hopefully, this here blog will help me chronicle some of that, and hopefully, the things I say will be of some interest to the folks out there in the outside world.

1 comment:

Tim said...

You've made a lot of progress already, and I look forward to seeing it continue! :)