Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Writing Journal: 6/28/11 Update

So as an update for the end of June, where am I in my writing life as of today?   

Probably, at least at some level, where I'll always be:

I am a writer who is working towards becoming a writer.

Clear enough?  Or do you think it doesn't make sense?  Okay, let me try to explain by breaking it down:

Well, "I am a writer", because I'm writing.

I'm regularly writing created-in-the-spur-of-the-moment stories for the Creative Copy Challenge prompts (and posting some of them here to share also).  I'm also regularly creating short stories, flash pieces, 50-word stories, or even 5x5 25-word stories as part of my Write1-Sub1 output, and submitting them each week.  Finally, I'm also semi-regularly (much too slowly, I confess), continuing to work on the first draft of my first novel.

So -- just by the fact that I'm doing all of that and generating around 3,500 words per week, I'm a writer.

But I'm still "working towards becoming a writer", too. 

Not because I remain (so-far) unpublished, although that is part of it.  But more-so simply because I don't think my writing is good enough yet.  Not that I think it's terrible.  In fact, there is usually something I like quite a bit in every piece I complete -- some nice phrasing, characterization, a fun twist, some decent scene-setting, or whatever.   But it's not consistent.  Hell, frankly, it's virtually uncontrollable.  The more I try to make something particularly good, the less likely it is to turn out that way.  Damned if I know why, but most times, the parts I like are the ones that just basically happened.

Still, I would like to improve -- to be able to generate those magical moments of writing more often.  To be able to know going in how to make sure that a new story is going to be good, and to be able to control it somehow.

But I'm discovering this may not be completely possible.  

Sure, I know that writing more and more stories will make me a better writer, but I don't think it will ever be possible to totally control that magic; to ensure that any given story, scene, or even sentence will be decent before it's written.

The renowned and admired writer John Steinbeck said as much in this "Letter of Advice for Beginning Writers" that I came across.  

"Over the years I have written a great many stories and I still don't know how to go about it except to write it and take my chances.  ... after many years, to start a story still scares me to death."


Even John Steinbeck, towards the end of a long and hugely successful and highly-awarded lifetime of writing, considered himself essentially the same thing:

A writer, working to become a writer.


Julia Munroe Martin said...

I'm with you, Chris: me too!

Chris Fries said...

Stay at it Julia -- You're definitely a writer!

Milo James Fowler said...

3,500 words/week? Nice! I don't think I'll ever get to the point where the start of a new story won't cause me some trepidation -- but the adrenaline rush is just as palpable.

Chris Fries said...

Thanks, Milo!

And I agree -- there's something intimidating yet so inviting and exciting about that first blank page.

Also, I haven't been at this too long, but I already find it amazing how writing one little story can generate such a wide swing of emotions: "I don't know what to write. Oh wait! This'll be great! No, this sucks! Actually, this is some of my best stuff! Arrgh -- What crap! I can't write anything decent. etc. etc."

Milo James Fowler said...

I go through the same internal monologue with almost every story I write, Chris. Someday I hope to leave it behind.

Congrats on meeting your June W1S1 goals!

Stephanie M. Lorée said...

Hey Chris, congratz on your June Write1Sub1 success. Stick with it!

Chris Fries said...

@Milo and @Stephanie: Thank you both very much!

One month in and hanging in there! congrats to both of you, too!