Today is the day for pulling together a bunch of semi-related ideas that have been rattling around in my head of late.
I’ll be publishing my first novel without the input of an editor. The earlier version that I serialized on Live Journal got some very helpful comments from readers, but other than implementing the suggestions that would clearly improve the novel, any flaws in the final version will be entirely my fault. In a way, it’s an experiment. If the book should ever reach the eyes of a reviewer, will it stand up or will something terrible that I’ve completely overlooked give the reviewer cause to tear it to shreds? It will be a test of how well I’ve learned my lessons and what I still need to work on.
I’ve never taken a writing course, and I’ve only skimmed through a couple of books about writing. I’ve read a few articles and blog posts here and there, which gave me some useful insights into story development, and I’ve looked into POV and some punctuation details that I always have trouble with. Other than that, writing fiction has been a learning process nourished by the hundreds of novels I’ve read over the years.
You might say that I’ve learned to write by osmosis. But that would be too simple. At an unconscious level, I know a great deal about how good novels are written, and the differences between good and bad writing. But it’s the struggle to do my own that’s been the real teacher. It’s usually true that we’re too close to our own work to see what’s wrong with it. If you have the basics tucked away somewhere in your brain, you have a better chance of finding the problems without having someone point them out to you. Better, not perfect. Probably the most helpful comment about the serialized Boundaries was that I tended to tell rather than show. That’s a biggie, and it made a huge difference in how the novel developed in the next revision.
Now I’m at the point where I can go back to something I wrote earlier and see the flaws and how to correct them. I also have a better grasp of what I need to be doing, as I’m doing it. But the learning process goes on, and maybe someday, submitting my work to someone else’s eyes before publishing will be part of it.