Monday, April 20, 2015

Time, travel

The first round of edits is done, and I am less sad that it took this long to get into the mix for the fifth book. I used my freshest eyes yet to look at something that was going to be published, and I could better hear the voices of all the confused people that were frustrated by my writing style (a friend recently told me, after years, that sometimes I write "around" ideas). As I've gotten older, I've fallen out of love with being clever and become married to making sense. Doesn't mean I'm any closer to being intelligible, though.

When I put the story down, I had a few conclusions. The first was, again, at how badly I committed to the initial book, not just because it was the most juvenile, but because the first book is the most important. I didn't read Harry Potter, or Twlight, the Hunger Games, or any of the others, but those series, that success, all started from those first books. A delicate amount of responsibility was assigned to them, and evidence shows that they did the work. Looking back on my own initial effort, now that I have gone down the road some and carried with me perspective, I can only shake my head sadly. 

In counter to that self-shaming, I present a glimpse of 2008. The novels were just notes on scraps of paper, conversations with friends, light, light research into various subjects and perspectives. I was watching television, reruns of a show that had long fell into syndication, when I caught up to a terrible moment that fans in previous years had suffered through. As so often does, real life imposed itself on fantasy. An actor left, and writers compensated. Terribly, I thought. I sat down and worked my frustrations out over fanfiction that I didn't even put my name on. I knew it wouldn't be worth anything, or I thought it wouldn't be worth anything. The reviews I got then were like the reviews I get now, slim trickles of cheer from obscure corners of the internet. As fate would have it, I was having a conversation with someone who had tried her own hand at fanfiction. I mentioned mine in an attempt to resonate, and hunted down the links to follow through. 

I found more reviews. Several times more than when I walked away from those stories in the same year. It was a classic flame out. I had come through, slaked my desire, and passed along (I think we all admit that if literature is a healthy, committed relationship then fanfiction is lower than tinder...izing?). It was catharsis. I wanted the story created by those characters to exist like it would if the whims of the actors playing them didn't matter. And once I had fixed that error, I came to realize that it could not be fixed. So, I walked away. 

"Utterly brilliant, I wish you would finish it, the writing is fantastic and I so need to know what will happen, thank you for both stories. Please consider taking up your saga again."

That was posted in March of 2014. When I read it, and others, I blinked in confusion. What came into focus was a younger version of myself swearing that I would never abandon my stories the way some others had. I would make sure they had a healthy diet of brainstorming, strong musculature induced by fearless editing built on a solid skeleton of outlining. Every last one of them. Unbeknownst to that younger ideal, an older me would later grow sardonic and jaded and delete stories I came back to and couldn't remember the reasons for, wake up in the night with the spark of an idea then grumpily go back to sleep. I would call my own words stupid and terrible. 

I had a birthday recently, and I received a few different gifts, on and around the day. I think a lot about what I would go back and tell a younger me. Probably the best present I got this year was a memory of what a younger me would tell me now.

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