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monday, june 18, 2001
+2 steps, -1

lots of numbers in recent entries, i know, but it shouldn't last long. 2 in a row isn't all that bad i don't think. at any rate, on to the topic that's actually been on my mind for two days now...

in my last entry i told about being offered a letter of recommendation from last quarter's fiction instructor (which still really ROCKS! lol). my good fortune in my writing actually didn't stop there. i am a member of the del rey digital writing workshop for sf & f and started posting work there the last two weeks of the quarter to a very luke warm reception. admittedly, very few of us there are professionals, that's on of the reasons we are there. and equally valid is that many of these people are "just writing" in the sense that grammar and spelling are not their best subjects. a lot of us are there because we have an idea and dream of being published writers. a few seem to be there just to get some free reading in. and i suppose the fact that everyone has a different sty;e of writing they not only use in their own creativity but also prefer to read should also be taken into account. many of these people are extremely talented and more than a few have been published. still, after the encouragement from friends and great grades on my fiction in class, the low scores and a few of the comments were pretty discouraging. i even had one fella score each of the 5 areas we look at as 1's on a 1-5 scale.

now, i did try to take some of this with a grain of salt, mostly because of the reasons above. other comments had to be weighed and rejected based on other things. i used drow (black skinned elves for those not in the know) as my evil antagonist in one of my prologues and was told to avoid using black and ebony and such as images for evil. i was not being racist, i was going with the racial description that was created long before i came along. another image which was to imply the sluggish movement of oil when it is cold was greeted with the comment that oil is unaffected by cold. ? (i'll just leave it at that.) but even after disregarding such things, it was not only discouraging but confusing as well.

for example, description. being a visual reader, you would think i would give wonderful descriptions. no. i gave mediocre descriptions until recently. it was one of the two things my professor wanted me to work on in my writing (the other being clichés). some how, some where during the quarter i had a light bulb go on about description. we did an author imitation, one which i felt was impossible for me to do but i gave it a shot. i used the first introduction of firesong in mercedes lackey's valdemar books as the base from which to work. understand that the professor generally scores on a check -, check and check + scale. i got a check ++ and commentary on the richness of the description. and somehow it clicked.

but description is a very personal thing it seems. i realize i now have to re-find my descriptive balance, trying to go from mediocre to rich without going into over done, over blown and just way too much (although lackey devoted over a page to firesong's entrance and appearance and the feelings he evoked - that's a lot of description folks!). i rework the above mentioned prologue and the variety of commentary on the description is just astounding: there wasn't enough, "the devil is in the details" according to another, and a third adored it as is. now how i can figure it all out if i get 3 very different comments on the same thing?

so i yanked it and did another work over and submitted a third time. this is where the two steps forward come in. i had just received this wonderful boost from my fiction professor and was feeling pretty good when i checked on the reviews of the newest draft. this time it is soaring. not 5's all the way across, but pretty damn close, with everyone saying it is in publishable form. oh yes, i was quite pleased with myself!

of course the bonk on the ego was just waiting in the wings, you knew that right?

i have a total of three novel series i am working on at the moment (i say series because 2 of them have yet to be broken up into individual novels): silverhall, uncrowned, and keepers. the above reactions were all to silverhall. my next submission was the prologue to keepers, and ladies and gents it has been even more trashed than the original silverhall! i felt good about my writing and now i am just confused about it.

why does this not surprise me?

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