Last Monday I went to the movie theater to see Jurassic World: Dominion. I don't often go to the theater anymore, but this movie was a special case. The original Jurassic Park (1993) was the first live-action movie I asked my parents to take me to see in theaters, and it has been one of my favorite movies all my life. Now, almost thirty years later, it seemed appropriate to see this final act of the Jurassic franchise in the theater as well. Movies and storytelling has changed a great deal in the past thirty years, so I went into the experience looking only at the nostalgic value and not much else.
So over the past couple of weeks I've had some setbacks in progress with my creative goals. Unfortunately, one of those setbacks involves the possibility of getting that separate personal workspace away from my family. But I am not letting that stop me from achieving my goals. I am still pressing forward with my projects and am still on target to have my novel manuscript self-published by midsummer. It's a bit of a surreal feeling, being this close to having this particular story out there and available for people (complete strangers as well as friends) to read. But the closer that publishing goal comes to being a reality, the more I feel like it's less of a big deal than I have made it over the years.
Over the past few weeks, I have been editing a novel manuscript which I had considered query-ready at least two years ago. Now I am changing it again because I have decided to self-publish it. This final round of editing may confuse some people; why edit it again if it was ready to be queried? The answer is simple. I want to put the writing back into my own voice.
A couple of weeks ago I decided to restart my current WIP after getting four chapters into my first draft. Despite following my outline and keeping with my proposed character development, there was a major flaw growing in the storytelling which I did not want in my story. One of my characters was in danger of developing a mindset akin to Stockholm Syndrome, but that does not match up with who and what he is. So I started over and added a new character who would help alleviate this flaw.
In any form of expression driven by public participation and desire for an audience, trends will develop. Whether you're talking fashion, artwork, music, slang, marketing, social media, scientific inquiry, or any number of other dynamic human forces, popularity and the desire for approval will affect what direction expression takes. One of the biggest areas of social life where trends can and do take over is in storytelling.
One of my favorite parts about starting a new writing project is doing research. My writing consists primarily of fantasy, and this allows for a wide range of research directions. Much of what I look into before starting to lay out a plot deals with history of technology and daily living in order to make the setting and characters believable. Sometimes during the course of this research, I'll run into some, little factoid I never considered significant before, and it will lead me down another trail of exploration that has significant impacts on my plotline.
Again, my weekend was not as productive as I had hoped it would be. After fighting with sinus headaches for most of Saturday and Sunday, I ran into a scene during my editing sessions which reads clunky and rough compared to previous scenes. I know this is the type of writing I produce when following the advice of "just get it written and fix it later," and now I am stuck in a position I hate when it comes to writing. I find myself asking if the current text is worth salvaging or if I should simply start over from scratch. Which will be easier? Which will be more time efficient? Which will get me to a point of being happy with the quality of the scene? This dilemma is why I prefer to address quality during my drafting process. Why write something I know will never make the final cut?
Much of this weekend threatened rain, keeping me inside where I spent most of my time editing my novel manuscript. I'm hoping to pitch or query it this winter, but putting the final polish on it is difficult for me, perfectionist that I am. I realize some other writers have the same problem, but such knowledge is not enough to silence my inner critic.
I started listening to another lecture series last week, this one on essay writing. And within the first two lectures, the professor had already rubbed me the wrong way. She spoke about a trip she took where she deliberately did not take a camera with her, because she wished to experience her destination using all of her senses rather than focusing it through the framework of a lens. While this is a position I can respect, the way she referred to photography as the editing of the world to show only what the photographer wants the audience to see is not how I personally go about my photo trips. And it set me off for a while. I really wanted to stop listening to the lecture series after that second lesson, but I have decided to continue on to see what else the professor has to offer that may prove useful to me.
I will listen, although I disagree.
Over the weekend, I had planned to go on a day trip to one of my favorite natural areas with my camera and the dog. Unfortunately, those plans were derailed but forces beyond my control, and so I spent my time catching up on some TV series that had been recommended to me. While watching pilot episodes through streaming websites, I became quite aware of differences in writing and presentation and the nuances of what I find to be enjoyable storytelling. A great deal of credit goes to actors and directors when it comes to film-based production, but I find that when it comes to my own preferences, it's the writers' work that either makes or breaks a show or movie.