I wish I could remember – I know it was good – it was all planned out, structured to spruik with the best power and . . . but it’s gone.
The times you lay in bed – should be asleep, should’ve been asleep hours ago – and all of a sudden, there’s this great idea, these great words, and they come so easy, they fall all over themselves in just the right way (or should that be ‘write’ way?) and it’s soooooo exciting!
I just have to remember what it was when I wake up – or should I get up now and write down at least the bones? – because I know (and I know you know) the words – or even the basic idea – will be gone by the time the night becomes the next day.
And that’s what happened. There was nothing there but the memory that it was good, it was great, it was magic. Like all magic, it moves on without a hint of ozone or a whiff of perfume – just pfffffft! Gone.
Such a loss. Because I know how good it was – the idea, the concept, the structured play of words that created a very powerful impact. It was. I promise.
But that’s all there is that’s left – a dream of greatness.
Does that stop me from getting on with what the day requires?
Nope. This has happened before. It happens all the time (you’d think by now I’d know to get up and jot, or have a pen and pad by the bed [but there are other considerations there!] or that I’d just enjoy it and let it go), so I go on knowing (yes, there’s a light) that if I could do it then, it’s going to happen again. It may not be the same words, it may not be the same idea or such a great and unique context or character or structure – but if the mind can think that way at any time, it can do it again when I’m listening better.
It means my current WIP can benefit from the knowledge that I know things are improving, that I’m learning and growing and taking notice of how and what and why things need to be improved.
I know that the craft of writing is a craft like cooking (which I can’t do and if I’m perfectly honest – don’t much care to put that much effort into (as long as it’s mostly edible)), and requires constant learning, practice (a lot of that), listening (to the good and not so good words of advice – I mean, how do you know what’s good and bad unless you can put them up side by side and see how it affects your own work) and application of new knowledge.
We never stop learning. Even the best cooks keep up the process of learning or relearning or revising or reviewing.
And so do I.
The practical application of the skills and requisite knowledge is what counts.
How do I know?
I did a uni degree, majored in Professional Writing.
Years later (it took me years because the uni stuff was so – uninspiring – that I thought it would all be the same), I did a short course on ‘POV and Character’ (something like that). I was looking for a bit of inspiration and maybe someone to start up a critique group.
What did I get? The most amazing opening of the eyes to a skill of the craft spoken in a way that made it all easy to understand and so worthwhile. It showed me how little I got from uni and books and eggspurts, and how much I needed to learn if I wanted to do this thing I can’t live without.
I’ve now done all (not quite, but almost, and some I’ve done twice because my notes don’t quite capture the whole essence, or I need to re-hear the message behind the words, or . . .) those short courses and learned so, so, so much.
But that’s not the end. Courses do not the writer make – it is the application of that learning in the craft of storytelling that moves the learning into the doing into the breathing effort of a STORY.
So, after all that: I’d like to thank the readers who love the Narrung Sagas and bought the Shadow book (four digits), and I’d like to apologise that it’s not the best thing out there, but one day (and soon – they get better with each one!) the books I put out there for you will be the best story you ever read.
Know why? Because I keep learning; because I keep loving the way the words take on structure and meaning and play the story to someone else; because that’s what I do.
One day (maybe on the anniversary of the Shadow publication) I’ll go back and do some surgery to improve it, based on what I’ve learned since. Or do you want me to do it now? Before Book III? You tell me, okay?