Saturday, March 15, 2008

On Writing

My job is two hours and fifteen minutes from where I live. It used to be three. No, I didn't move closer, and the job site sure as hell didn't move closer to me. I just found a better route home, is all. (The way the trains and buses meet up, getting home used to take three hours.)

So during the week I'm little more than a zombie who works, sleeps, and eats. I don't do anything interesting during the week. And I pretty much hate it.

Weekends I write. I do try to write on the train, but in the mornings, I'm too exhausted (I leave by 6 a.m.). At night, I just want to read on the way home.

I just read through a story I recently wrote. I thought I would wince—I usually find reading my first drafts painful—but I found myself pleasantly surprised. My story-telling skills leave something to be desired, but I liked much of the word content.

I have a whole philosophy on writing, you see. I believe there are good storytellers, and then there are good writers. Dostoevsky, for example, was an excellent writer, but a horrible storyteller. JK Rowling is a frocking great storyteller, but her writing is so-so.

There are very few writers who can do both. Stephen King is one, although his writing can be uneven. Neil Gaiman is another. I think he's both a great writer and a great storyteller. Gene Wolfe, a writer who makes the rest of us want to impale ourselves on our pens, is both a great writer and a great storyteller. You remember the words and the story.

For me, right now, I think I'm a pretty good writer and a beginning storyteller. Which means I'm a rather lousy storyteller. I think I need to analyze more when I read, instead of letting things just soak in. Osmosis is fine. Photosynthesis is fine. But I think I've been avoiding analysis. No, I have been avoiding analysis.

So. Gotta go do some analysis. Also, my computer is getting wanky—a sign I need to shut down for the night.

Good night, and good luck.

5 comments:

fairyhedgehog said...

I like this idea of the two elements involved in writing novels: the storytelling and the writing. I'm not sure I'm any good at either but since it's plots that give me the most problems, I probably write better than I storytell.

I'm sitting here now thinking about some of my favourite authors and which they do best. I think Ian Rankin and Tanya Huff are pretty good story tellers but maybe not world class writers. Iain Banks can do both, although he doesn't always. The Crow Road is pretty damn good, though, and parts of it have stuck in my mind.

freddie said...

What's The Crow Road about? Sounds interesting. I shall be checking out writers on Amazon.

Yeah, developed this little philosophy when I read The Unbearable Lightness of Being. Long, long ago. I loved it when I read it, but I suspect now if I were to go back and read it I might find it a tad overrated. But . . . won't know for sure unless I read it again.

fairyhedgehog said...

The Crow Road has the hero trying to solve the mystery of his uncle's disappearance. It begins: "It was the day my grandmother exploded" and goes on from there. Wikipedia have got a good article on it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Crow_Road

What about The Unbearable Lightness of Being? I know I should know it but I don't.

freddie said...

The Unbearable Lightness of Being is by Milan Kundera. I read it in my early twenties and loved it. Just right for my angst-filled being.

Mainly, it's a philosophical book masquerading as a novel as told through the stories of five people falling in and out of love. Plenty of angst to go around.

AddingThe Crow Road to my wishlist.

Sorry about the delay in responding. My wireless is acting wonky today.

fairyhedgehog said...

That was a delay? Seemed pretty quick to me!

I'll see if I can get the Unbearable Lightness from the library and give it a go.