It’s something between a writing and a reading post. I’ve realized that in the past few years I’ve read mostly other indies and sort of lost track of what traditional publishers have to offer. Good or bad, I don’t know. Some of those writers were at a lower stage of their writing than mine, so even if one should read both the good and the bad, it made me feel like I knew everything.
Wrong, of course. But I was also daunted by the length of those traditionally published books (I bought A Game of Thrones in London before they made a TV series out of it, and it’s still sitting on my desk – can’t bear myself to get to those 800pages knowing there’s more to come). When I stared at the TBR pile, I always went for the shorter book at hand – and tried to get an idea of e-book lengths for the same reason.
Like Dean Wesley Smith has been telling us for years, in traditional publishing wordcounts were inflated. Now Moira Allen has realized that too – and that older classics are much shorter than today’s novels. That might be a reason why I didn’t start on George Martin’s book(s), I’d rather read 10 shorter books than one of those series! :)
Might be the workshop, might be the latest read, but I think this year is another step in my writing career, so I was thinking of doing some kind of recap – mostly for me.
So in the 1980s I just wrote, longhand, for myself. At school I sometimes had a classmate reading my stuff, but mostly I was my only reader. I read and re-read the same books over and over, and tried to write like my then favorite author, Brunella Gasperini.
In the 1990s I started going to comicons and did my photocopied fanzine and started making new friends and getting a few more feedback. Jump in quality, thanks to that feedback! Unfortunately, it came from a bunch of yaoi lovers, so it didn’t improve the rest of my writing much! ;) I read most of David Eddings’s series, Jennifer Robertson’s Cheysuli series and some Dragonlance novels – lots of traditional fantasy (but not LOTR).
In the new millennium I tried my hand at screenplays in English and did my first creative writing workshops. I can still remember that in 2003 I discovered things like points of view (a.k.a. no omniscient narrator and no head-hopping in contemporary prose, thank you!) and thought “Wow, 25 years of writing I should just throw away!”
Which of course I didn’t! ;) I still have everything, because I’m like that. Anyhow, I went back to prose and before I started querying, the indie revolution happened. I started publishing what I considered my backlist, all those stories written before 2011 but after 2003.
And then I went back into my old old writing, and boy, it’s getting harder and harder to make decent stories out of that material! The pacing is wrong, the omniscient narrator is everywhere and it’s so summarized that I have no idea of what I meant to say in the first place – not to mention some very obvious naivetés since I was young and dumb.
Add to that the new ideas that pop up, and I’ll probably leave in the drawer all those 500 stories written in the previous stages of my writing! ;) Not that I’ve become proficient yet, but I’m getting better. I still can’t cry on my own stories (managed to get a little lump in my throat once or twice) while I do cry on other people’s stories. So, still a lot to learn.
This year I’m writing less, but trying to learn more. I’m also trying to read more, and not just indies, but also best sellers or traditionally published authors, to study them. Might be because the publisher’s web page is still in “coming soon” stage after two months and I already have to upload 100 covers, might be because I’m rebranding some titles, I don’t know, I’m publishing a lot less, but I don’t care.
I’ve been prolific so far by “recycling” old stories (most of Silvery Earth stories were written between 1990 and 2005), I’m less prolific now that I’m writing new stories. A few of the Star Minds shorts are recycled, but some are brand new.
I also noticed that last year I read a lot of short stories and not many novels. That’s probably why I haven’t really written novels this year yet – well besides Star Minds Next Generation and the current Desi vampire (a shorter novel – but then, my longest novel is 90K, so “short” for today’s standards).
So I better go back to reading novels and keep studying, because… you never stop learning! :) Even the strengths I thought I have are not so strong, but now I know how to improve. We’ll see if I actually improve within the year or not! :)
And if you’re adults who don’t have time to spare and like to read shorter fantasy novels, the Silvery Earth books are all standalone and the longest is Books of the Immortals – Air (which has an inflated wordcount because… I wanted to submit it to traditional publishers. I couldn’t reach the minimum 100K they wanted for a fantasy book, so I self-published!)! ;)
Have a great weekend! I’ll be doing the final pass on the Desi vampire…