Friday, February 10, 2017

What I HATE About Writing

My purpose for writing is only to entertain. I have no desire to change anybody's worldview or take up a cause. I despise stories that are bully pulpits and I have vowed never to write one. My ultimate goal is to draw my readers into a world of my creation with prose and characters and story so poignant and powerful that when they reach the words, The End, they feel as if they were waking from a dream.

And writing a story is very much like building a house. When you look at a residence, you are seeing the entire structure, not the individual elements that go to making up the whole. But if you have an orange brick in a wall of red ones, it will stand out, jarring the aesthetics. If the foundation is composed of sand, the entire structure is unsteady. A simple single element can destroy the whole.

A story is something similar to building a house. It is composed of paragraphs that are composed of sentences that are composed of phrases that are composed of words. If one element is off, it can harm the entire work.

And I have discovered that the more I write, even when churning out dreck, the better I become simply because writing is like a muscle. The more I use it, the stronger the prose.

Take for instance my story, The Shrine War. Currently it's for sale as part of Fred Patten's anthology, Dogs of War. Now do not misunderstand. I am deeply grateful that The Shrine War was accepted for publication. Heck, I'm thrilled to the core when Fred even acknowledges my existence.

Yet, after submitting the story I kept going back to the tale and revisiting my Kitsune, wise Sen, naive Hoso, and proud Chiyu and their struggle with the doomed Inugami driven by rage.

And this is what I hate about writing. I gave Fred the best I could do, but I shudder to think of seeing my story in print.

I see things. I see where a superfluous word clouds the meaning of a phrase, where a misplaced word communicates something other than my original meaning. I find sentences where the addition or elimination of a single word can make it sing where it used to grunt.

The more I learn, the more dissatisfied I am with my past offerings. I cannot read my anthologies, because to see my amateur scrawlings makes me cringe. Sen and her fellow Kitsune deserve the best that the art of wordsmithing can muster and the art of storytelling is a deep well of which I have only mastered a teaspoon.

But I will continue to write. I will master the art even though it took me 62 years to come this far. And though I fear the grave will find me before I come to a place where I can be happy with something I have written, I will strive for greater mastery.

I have revisited The Shrine War again and continued the subtle art of revision and editing. Someday, I hope to share it with you as part of a collection along with The Inugami, my current work in progress, and the humorous short, Hoso's First Day.

But even then, will my offering be perfect? Probably not. Though the cost of never being satisfied is the one aspect of writing I hate, my love of entertaining you is much stronger.

I've got great things planned, so hang on. It's gonna be a fun ride.

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