September 5, 2010

Returning from an unintentional hiatus

I've realised it's been months since I've posted in Writing on Absinthe, which is a pity, because this blog was very useful for me to process the things I've learned as a writer. My neglect of this blog does not come from laziness, in fact I've been working (yes, still doing a PhD in Physics), writing, travelling, and sorting my life out.

I have been writing, a lot even. I've finished the first draft of the novel re-write (second version of the novel, but I still call it a first draft because I began again from scratch), which has totaled at 100,000 words. I was amazed I had the motivation to complete it, since I wrote a previous version back in November which I wasn't happy with, but I found by writing a poor quality first draft to be very educational for writing the second version. I love the story and I love the characters, although I suppose this is not unusual for a writer to love his or her own work, but I didn't like the way it was previously written. The story jumped too much without any structure, and in truth it was poorly written. But I've learned a lot since November, and if anything I've grown a lot as a writer thanks to the support I've found in my writing community who have pushed me to learn from my mistakes, as well as the vital task of just write, write, write and read, read, read. I came to the novel as a more mature writer (still with my own faults but at a marginally higher level), and I came up with a better way to structure it. So far the feedback from beta readers has been excellent, and it's really motivated me to work on it more. When someone tells me something is good, I don't feel the need to sit back and give myself a pat on the back, rather think how to make it better. Talent is one thing, but skill is only acquired through sheer hard work. Fortunately the criticism for the book I've received so far has been encouraging, but also practical - highlighting the weak points I need to work on. So the novel project is still very much a work in progress, but one which I feel has a lot of potential, but most importantly - I write it because I love it.

Evidence of my travels - Barcelona

I also undertook the ambitious task of writing a short story a week (first draft, not edited) over the summer. I don't think I met that particular target, but I did pen 8-9 stories at least which is no mean feat. An interesting thing I learned from this was that writing first drafts with such a frequency and intensity, I've already seen a rise in the quality of the first drafts. Previously, my first drafts were AWFUL, and I would edit them over and over again until they we adequate. Now, while they still need editing, I'm reaching a level where they are actually not horrific in quality. I plan on working on the best ones to consider submitting (or just hand into my writers group).

Over the summer I've only learned to just keep persisting. Write and write, but with a critical eye. To look at ones own work without the rose tinted glasses. Seek feedback from outside eyes for guidance or a just a reality check, but at the end of the day try to see things yourself. Most importantly, you have to love writing. To sit down and write and edit is not a an ordeal or a chore, you enjoy it or can't live without it. Without love, writing for any other reason is futile.