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Monday, June 28, 2010

And Now For Something Completely Different...

If you spend too much time immersed in one topic, you either become an expert or you develop tunnel vision. I've been wrapped up in the publishing industry the last six months, to the point where I don't want to hear about self-publishing, the state of ebooks, the death of traditional publishing, editing, or anything else publishing related for at least a month.

Writing advice is going to land in the same bin for a while. Reading some of my early manuscripts, I had an epiphany. I used to enjoy writing, blithely making all sorts of "mistakes" in my plots, pacing, characters, and general writing. But the sheer joy of creation came through, loud and clear. The stories were fun to read.

If an author isn't enjoying the story and the characters, if they don't care about more than getting words on paper, it shows. Readers pick up on the vibes. The story is flat and lifeless. Maybe this is why so many books with mediocre writing do so well - the author loved the story and it carries through to the reader.

Telling family stories in the car last night, we laughed until we cried. The silliness and absurdity of the situation exaggerated by the storyteller only added to the excitement. The performance wasn't polished and perfect, it was ad-libbed and constantly interrupted. But it was filled with joy.

Finding that balance between loving the story and perfecting the vehicle is tricky. Focus too much on either and you produce something less than it could be. Hit the sweet spot and everything sparkles.

So maybe I should write some of those stories about our stupid cats or my kids' antics. Getting my first book published, and working on the sequels, has locked me in edit mode for too long. It's time to find the joy again. It's time to fall in love with a whole new set of characters.

It's time to change things up for a while. And find something completely different to immerse myself in. Maybe I'll go check out The Larch or apply for a post with the Ministry of Silly Walks*. Or maybe I'll just change my scenery for a while. Maybe I'll break out my camera and post pictures that I find inspiring or entertaining. Maybe I'll open Bryce and paint landscapes for a few days. Maybe I'll write that weird story kicking around my head just because I can.

*If you get those references, kudos to you. If not, go find some Monty Python to watch.