muir_wolf: (Default)
muir_wolf ([personal profile] muir_wolf) wrote2011-12-10 10:35 pm

i face the horizon everywhere i go; or, WORDS

a) LOVE MEME, if thou art so inclined ♥


The thing about surrounding yourself with talented writers is that it can be intimidating. Now, I think I've improved leaps and bounds in the last few years. I think I've found my voice as a writer and I think I've matured as a writer. At the same time, though, I can't deny that being around people cleverer and more talented than I am has on occasion led me to think more about how my story would be received rather than about my enjoyment in writing it.

Now, talk of glory hounds and review mongering aside, I think wanting to impress people you respect is perfectly natural. When I was in school, positive notes and comments on my papers and stories was something I always worked towards. Any positive feedback from my English teacher in twelfth grade pretty much made my day.

However, I've also been pretty secure in my writing. It's very possible that I'm a conceited idiot, but I felt I was always in the upper handful in high school and in my college creative writing classes, and while I enjoyed writing and tried to improve, I was always measuring my writing against myself. And then these ridiculously lovely + talented people started talking to me, and they'd comment on my fics and say they were good, and I'm looking at their works and it was just like really? And I think its easy to get caught in kind of a doubt-spiral. Especially since this is around the same time that I'm working on my draft, and I have people telling me I'm a great writer, and I'm thinking have you ever read anything I've written?

Of course, the entire time I'm working on this draft, I'm thinking about the fact that it's going to end up being torn apart by everyone, and that constructive criticism is important, and that I'll need to be impartial, and that I can't be too attached. That I'm going to have to tear things apart and build them back up, and that that's necessary if I ever want to even have half a chance of being published. Which. There's all these ridiculously lovely + talented people writing that are so much better than I am, and I think I have a shot of being published? Really?

It pretty much all came to a head during this year's BBBB. I shouldn't have signed up in the first place. It wasn't peer pressure, as there isn't one person I know who wouldn't have understood me not signing up. I should have dropped out, which I know the mods would have been completely okay with, and which I know everyone would have been supportive about. Instead, I proceeded to completely flip out about a harmless BBT Space AU ficathon, because at that point I was not only hating my fic, I was hating myself and my writing, and it felt like the only possibly thing my BBBB had going for me was the plot. Which is ridiculous, but. At that point that's how I felt. Instead of, oh I don't know, talking about this to someone, I went to the extremes of contemplating deleting my LJ and my twitter and my tumblr and just disappearing completely from my online world, not with any real sort of seriousness I don't think, but with those escapist fantasies I go through when absolutely nothing feels within my control.

I've never hated writing before. I am, all false modesty aside, quite vain about my writing. I'd rather someone compliment me on my well-formed sentences than my eyes (prospective suitors take note). I think that was what made it the worst, and was probably why I was so stubborn about staying in, because I don't hate writing, and I can always pull words out of the air. It's what I do. It's what I've always done, and giving up felt like admitting that I wasn't good enough. I haven't read my BBBB since I posted it, but I imagine that it's clear in the lines how little I enjoyed the writing of it.

My BBBB, at finish, was about 17k. I can tell, from the writing of it, that it should've been twice that length. Rather than following the story, as I've always done, I forced the story into a stiff, sparse outline. I chopped up scenes that wanted to linger and I shoved character development out the window in favor of word-vomiting information for the readers. In the past, I've always gone with finding those beats of time to slip information in. I don't know how successful I was, but each flashback and piece of background in my circus AU was chosen for how it fit into the frame. For this BBBB I said fuck the frame, and ripped and glued a story together. It feels rather like a betrayal.

I wrote a ~2k crossover fic last night, and it was so much fun. It was just fun. I found the frame of the story, and gathered up the threads of it, and then just wrote it. I didn't know how it would end at the beginning, although I knew a few of the beats along the way, and I hit each one, because the story led me to them.

Writing for me is like typing. When I focus too much on it, I start to overthink it and lose the threads I'm following - I can't find the flow of the story and I worry about the words sound together rather than hearing them. It's like a choose your own adventure, except I run into a direction and I don't look back.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I forgot how to listen to the flow of the story because I was too busy trying to write a great story, but that doesn't work. And because I was trying to be some great writer, I completely butchered a plot, and both let myself down and let a story down, and while that might sound like melodramatic nonsense, if a story gives itself to me, isn't it my job to follow it and listen to it and put it down on paper?

Anyway, if you see me complaining that I'm a crappy writer, please punch me in the face. It's not my place to judge my writing. I'm just supposed to corral annoying characters and put words into something resembling sentences.

[identity profile] 2011-12-11 07:04 am (UTC)(link)
Oh god, I know how you feel. Sometimes I self-edit comments in casual interweb discussion so much that it's exhausting, so you can imagine how I am writing.