When is writing a good book a bad thing?
February 25, 2014
It’s a strange question.
For an author writing a good book is always a positive.
It should be.
But that doesn’t take into account the self-confidence thing authors battle day in and day out.
I’m not whining, just reporting.
One would think that when an author has written a certain number of books he would be able to set aside his insecurities and forge ahead on his next one.
Shame on you for thinking so.
Authors never get over the sense that the words they have committed to paper, all of them, are not worth reading.
Those are the same authors who would never write a single word unless they were convinced that what they have to say is important.
Okay. Don’t pity them, but at least understand how a writer’s mind works.
Strange thing that it is.
The writers I know are consumed with a desire to make each new work better.
They beat themselves up when the words stop flowing, or when they try without success to rekindle the fire that led them to write the last one.
Here’s my confession.
One of the reasons, apart from time and other commitments, that I am having trouble getting started on book nine is because I finished book eight and believed it better than the other things I have written.
In other words, I feel as if I have set the bar too high for myself.
To do better not only will I have to come up with a good story, I must execute it with a better use of language, a smoother vibe, a more insightful approach.
That’s just me talking, but I know I’m not alone.
Maybe herein lies what separates the men from the boys, the women from the girls, in Indie publishing.
Anybody who can type and who has a word processor can crank out words.
But what sort of words?
If all we Indies are concerned about is adding another book to our catalog, then no sweat. Take a weekend and word process sixty or seventy thousand words, half-edit them, get some attractive cover art and fling that baby on the unsuspecting reading public.
That’s one approach.
The simple one.
But what if the deal is that the author really wants to improve his writing from book to book?
That’s a horse of a different color.
The more years I spend at the keyboard, the more I am coming to understand that books take time.
I don’t mean an author should take five years to write his next novel.
For some that may be the schedule.
I don’t have that much time left.
However, the difference between a book written in three months versus one that took six months or nine months or a year to write may be quite substantial.
For me a story has to percolate for a while.
Even before I type the first word of it.
Then it has to percolate as I go along.
I’m a pantser, but that doesn’t mean that I write the first words that come to mind. It just means that I try to let the story flow while it’s in progress.
It still has to ferment, to age, to acquire its maturity.
The really cruel thing about that process is that the story may ferment a while before the author realizes it is crappy.
But it’s better that the author abandon a project that is second-rate instead of moving forward with it in order to meet a self-imposed deadline.
I firmly believe that we should write the best books we can, discipline ourselves to hone the writing craft each time we put words on paper.
Our self-imposed deadlines be damned.