photo from 2011 on the rim right below where Zane Grey's cabin stood before the big fire burned it
"I think one must finally take one's life into one's arms." Arthur MillerWhen I looked over them, I saw they needed a LOT of editing. Some of that was because of how our culture had changed for my contemporary suspenses. Writing styles had changed for expectations, but some editing was because I was better at my craft than when I'd originally written them (luckily the plots and characters all held up and met my goals). My work that year involved going over each book word for word. In spending a lifetime writing, creating characters and stories, it had all been for myself, I didn't have to meet anyone else's expectations. That was about to change.
At the end of 2011, I brought out my first book, and 2012 was when I began learning about the other end of writing-- promoting (oh my gosh, what a lesson). The following was something I wrote that year after looking at all these books and immersing myself in writing and my own philosophy behind what I wrote. I kept the essence of the piece but did edit it-- I'm a better writer today than I was in 2011. I will be a better writer in five more years if I keep writing. It's how it works.
Art is only a means to life , to the life more abundant. It is not in itself the life more abundant. It merely points the way-- something which is too often overlooked not only by the public, but by the artists themselves. If it becomes an end, it defeats itself.The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be more aware, joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware. Henry Miller
To put it another way, the process of creating art is what an artist is all about. The end product , that's the gravy in the process, but it's the creating which is most satisfying and challenging. It's about process; and if the process is confusing and conflicting at times, well that is also part of what it can be. Anything that flows with no emotional angst is probably craft. That doesn't mean there aren't those moments the creation is flowing, the artist/writer/creator is writing along, grinning, and feeling so good for how it went-- but they are matched with the times of writing, rewriting, writing again and eventually deciding to tear the whole thing apart.
When in the midst of creating, often it involves spending time examining articles on how to be successful. Sometimes the articles can seem contradictory. Here are some recently read suggestions for writers on how to get a publisher to accept their work--
Get rid of all extraneous parts.
Don't have events happen that don't carry the story forward.
Edit down to the bones of what is needed.
If your story is over 100,000 words , it means you didn't edit enough.
When I read a book that I am enjoying (also when I write stories), the little tidbits, the pieces that don't take it anywhere are sometimes the parts I enjoy most. Life isn't full of everything being directed toward a conclusion. Life is full of things that just happen and sometimes with seemingly no meaning, but they are part of the whole. It's like the grace notes in a piece of music or in a painting. The little things some may not even notice, but they are part of the whole picture and make it what it is more than the broader more obvious strokes.
I see the conflict on these two opposing ideas being like a big X. Be concise and to the point but don't forget the grace notes. Both can be right-- when in balance.
Never lose track of where you are going.
Don't rush so much that you miss the roses along the way.
Little moments often tell the reader more about the character of people than the big ones. My favorite books to read are full of small moments. The problem is selecting the right ones to not bore the reader while leaving them with an enjoyable aftertaste.
One other thing that working on my books has been reminding me. I have to like the characters to want to spend time with them at all. The other day I saw a review on a biography of a well-known woman artist of her time. It said she was a nasty woman but very successful at her painting. I thought why would I want to spend time reading a book about a nasty woman? I didn't buy it. I try to keep that in mind for my characters. If they don't seem interesting and aren't essentially likeable, why would a reader want to invest time in them.