I’m reading through Dean Wesley Smith’s book Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing and I keep finding myself saying “I knew it!” or “Thank God! I thought I was crazy!”
The latest chapter to do that to me was the one about practice. Apparently, writers don’t practice, they edit. I’d always thought that statement was asinine, though I’ve heard it from multiple people.
Well, unless you don’t plan on being any good. I know most beginning writers think every thing they’ve written is gold and rejections come from people who just don’t understand their genius.
There are some stories that will just not get any better, no matter how much you polish it. Some times you’re just taking a turd and trying to make it shinier.
I wrote my first novel in fifth grade. It was awesome! I even had an adult critique group look at it and they liked it. I read it in sixth grade and was embarrassed. How could I have thought this was great? The basic idea was ok but, really, it needed a complete re-write.
Yeah, I wish I read the chapter on re-writing back then but that’s all for the best. I started from scratch and, really, it was a bit better but, well, it still sucked.
I wrote another novel in high school. Really, it’s not even worth talking about except that it was long. I don’t remember a word count but I do remember hitting page 500 and thinking nothing of it.
All told, I’ve thrown out over 1,000 pages of writing with no regrets.
So, what was all that writing? And the essays and short stories I’ve written for classes and fun?
It was practice.
When I played softball, I spent much more time practicing than I did playing. Same thing for playing the flute and the tuba. I’ve been asked to help with brass performances at my sons school and the thought that keeps going through my head is “I really need to get more practice time in.”
I’m a decent tuba player but I’d be better with more practice. I’m also a pretty good writer, but I’m not about to stop practicing.