1. DromedaryLights
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    DromedaryLights Active Member

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    The Progressive Thread of Progress Brought to you By Progresso

    Discussion in 'Progress Journals' started by DromedaryLights, Aug 26, 2014.

    Today I wrote for 2 hours, read The Sun Also Rises, realized everything I had written was rubbish, cried while refreshing the visitors page on my blog for an hour, suffered various existential crises, looked at cats on the internet, cried some more, and then recapped everything. Morale is low. Lost another couple of oxen at last river fording. Timmy has dysentery. May resort to cannibalism before winter is through. Tell my wife I love her.
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2014
  2. DromedaryLights
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    DromedaryLights Active Member

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    As of today, I'm up to 45,000 words, which would be great news if it weren't for the near certainty that it will all turn out to be rubbish when I read it back. I mean, I do some preliminary editing when I finish a section, but I'm trying to just get the whole thing down before I really take a long hard look at what I have. Maybe it's silly, but I just feel like that's the only way I'll ever even get a draft finished.

    The bigger problem, perhaps, is that even as I'm writing I realize it is totally unmarketable. There is of course a part of myself that says: "Your voice is amazing, people will respond to it no matter what the story is! You will speak for our generation!", and then there is the more realistic part that says "Dude, everyone thinks they are a special snowflake. But, if everyone is a special snowflake, then no one is a special snowflake. It is only your ego that prevents you from seeing how terrible a writer you truly are!"

    But, I persevere. Because, what else even is there? I mean, it's kind of like what Hermes Conrad sang as he sorted the master inbox: "When push comes to shove / you got to do what you love / even if it's not a good idea."

    So, word to that.
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2014
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  3. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    You said you read The Sun Also Rises. You realize, of course, that Hemingway struggled with that novel as much as you're struggling with yours, don't you? There's a new edition out that includes scrapped chapters, false starts, an attempt to write it in third person; there are more than seventy pages of mistakes, rewrites, revisions, stuff that was cut, etc. It's instructive to look at this kind of edition. In fact, it warms your heart to know that the greats wrote their share of crap, too.

    Hemingway himself said that what a writer needs most is "a built-in, shock-proof shit detector." If you realize that your work is bad, then you have one. Keep working! Winston Churchill kept saying KBO. It stood for "Keep Buggering On." His way of saying, never give up. Perseverance and determination are more important to a writer than being a special snowflake. :)
     
  4. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I think you're doing exactly the right thing. Get it finished. Don't worry about who else is going to like it, or whether it's publishable or anything else. Just get it written.

    While it's difficult to get published in the traditional manner these days—no matter how good a writer you are—the good news is it's easier than it has ever been to 'get published' and get your work out there. All you need to do is get it finished. Then you can decide what to do with it.

    I have moments of sheer ...whaddayacallit ...creative angst?... whenever I go into a bookstore, look at the zillions of books on the shelves and think 'shit, do we really need another one?'

    No, probably not. But I've written one all the same. I've had enough people read my drafts and have done enough edits to know it's a pretty good story. I've created characters who didn't exist until I came along and gave them life. I've explored aspects of the human condition and unearthed bits of myself I didn't know were there. I've had fun. I've learned a new craft and made new friends as a result ...both online and face-to-face. I'm happy even if I never earn a penny from my novel. Once I get it online, anybody who wants to can read it.

    That's a resource that previous generations of writers didn't have. Online self-publishing. (The quality of what you self-publish is entirely down to you.) You CAN get your work out there, to a favoured few—or to gazillions of fans if it catches on. At least it won't end up moldering away in some attic.

    Of course if you're fixed on earning a living from writing, there are other ways to do it. Become a copywriter, or a freelance journalist, or a regular journalist. Things like that. You can do these things in addition to writing a novel, and they might offer you a foot in the publishing door once you've finished the novel. But write your novel because you want to. Write it the way you want to, and tell the story you want to. You ARE a special snowflake, and your perspective is unique. That doesn't mean you're going to stand out from all the other snowflakes out there, but you have as much right to appear beside them as anybody else does. What happens then? Who knows?

    Good luck and keep tapping away!
     
  5. Ben414
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    Ben414 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Just remember:

    Cromulent writing embiggens the smallest writers.
     
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  6. Empty Bird
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    Empty Bird Member

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    C-cromulent? Crumpet? WHAT DOES IT MEAN???

    Crumpets or crumbs? Which one...?

    (It's been a long day.)
     
  7. DromedaryLights
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    DromedaryLights Active Member

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    Today I wrote 1,000 words, was paralyzed by despair for 12 hours, and then wrote another 1,000 words. So, pretty much an average day.
     
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  8. Swiveltaffy
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    Swiveltaffy Contributing Member Contributor

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    You get points for presentation.
     
  9. DromedaryLights
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    DromedaryLights Active Member

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    Update: I found another thousand words that I'd written previously and forgotten about, which I feel like counts as progress. Decided to eat 3,000 calories of Chinese food to celebrate. Restaurant was closed. Now is the frozen pizza of my discontent. Actually, who am I kidding, frozen pizza is amazing.
     
  10. DromedaryLights
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    DromedaryLights Active Member

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    It turns out that, surprise surprise, you can’t really make a novel by just writing every idiotic thing that pops into your head until it equals 80,000 words. Well, you can I suppose, but it will be terrible. You can make a novel-length pile of garbage that way, at any rate. I do everything wrong -- I don’t take the time to really learn how to do things for real. I am like a cautionary tale, basically. In classic piece-of-shit fashion, I will choose to blame this on my parents.

    People sometimes complain about how confusing my writing is. Ulysses was confusing. I am not comparing myself to James Joyce. Actually, I guess technically I was. This is not sound reasoning on my part. Sometimes people say: “I got bad grades in school but so did Einstein.” Well, A lot of people got bad grades in school, but very few people are Einstein. A lot of writers are hard to understand. Very few are James Joyce. I’m totally the next James Joyce though. Yup.

    I was not being entirely serious about anything I just said.
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2014
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  11. Swiveltaffy
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    Swiveltaffy Contributing Member Contributor

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    More points for presentation.
     
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  12. DromedaryLights
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    DromedaryLights Active Member

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    The end is in sight. Sort of. Should have a completed first draft in about 1-2 more weeks. Of course, that is when the real work begins. I'm pretty daunted by the prospect of having to go over everything again, figure out what is working and what isn't, and then probably add a whole lot more when I realize all of the pieces that are missing. I'm not going to lie, this is becoming sort of an ordeal. I spend so much of my life thinking: "God I wish I weren't so busy, I wish I had time to work on my creative projects!" And then when I finally get the time, it's a little bit like, "Oh goddammit I wish I had an excuse not to work on this." The more time I put in, the harder it becomes to forgive the inadequacies. I have newfound respect for anyone who is actually able to do this!
     
  13. Swiveltaffy
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    Swiveltaffy Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you don't mind me asking, what is this project?
     
  14. DromedaryLights
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    DromedaryLights Active Member

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    My first ever "novel." I've been working on it little by little for close to a year. I posted a couple excerpts in the workshop a few days ago if you're interested, though I will warn you it is pretty shitty and damned near incomprehensible.
     
  15. Swiveltaffy
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    Swiveltaffy Contributing Member Contributor

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    I will attempt to check it out later today. I'll let you know.
     
  16. DromedaryLights
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    DromedaryLights Active Member

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    Pretty much done with the roughest of rough drafts, working on editing now. After I give it the once over, I'm going to hand it to a friend who happens to be a professional copywriter / editor. She actually volunteered to help me try to turn it into something publishable, which is pretty cool. I foresee substantial rewriting in my not too distant future.
     
  17. aikoaiko
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    aikoaiko Contributing Member

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    I just ordered this version, actually. And I noticed they put out a similar version for 'A Farewell to Arms'. I picked FTA up at a used book sale some months ago, but I certainly want the revised version now!

    I've recently developed a new found passion for Hemingway. When I was a kid in school I hated his books and thought they were boring, but now I can see what he was doing. He's one of these writers who sort of 'creeps up' on you, IMO. You're reading along easily and it's nice, nice, moving along at a good clip but not particularly earth-shattering, and then BAM. You're left absolutely reeling because the end was so incredible:). 'The Road' was like that too, I thought. Very few authors seem to possess this ability.
     
  18. DromedaryLights
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    DromedaryLights Active Member

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    This does sound pretty interesting. It's easy to imagine that great works were easy to produce, that the writer's talent allowed them to set genius to paper on the first attempt. We all know it probably doesn't work that way, but in the absence of evidence to the contrary, sometimes we might forget.

    The Old Man and the Sea is the only Hemingway I ever read in school, apart from a couple short stories. I liked it well enough then, though it was more enjoyable when I reread it a few years later. I don't love Hemingway's writing, but I do like like it. It's a welcome break from the sort of stuff I usually read.

    One thing I wonder, though, is if he hadn't been famous, and if he were transported into modern times, and if I happened to see his writing in a workshop on this very forum, what would I think of it? I think there is sort of a "right place right time" quality to his wild success, if that makes sense.

    But, regardless of one's personal opinion, clearly he is worthy of study, and it's always satisfying to cross another work of Officially Great Literature off the bucket list.
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2014
  19. Alexa C. Morgan
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    Alexa C. Morgan Member

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    In the wise words of the world wide web, LOL. You're writing if for anything, packs heat and humor like a galavanting Private Eye right about to deal in a stolen Falcon.
     
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  20. aikoaiko
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    aikoaiko Contributing Member

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    I used to think of this too, and I wasn't very impressed with him either.:( His writing is so watered down compared with more recent literary writers like Pynchon or even David Foster Wallace. It seems like anyone could have done it. He's not flashy, his sentences are short, some of the dialogue seems flat and irrelevant, but in the end it's this same simplicity that ends up driving the point home, so I guess that's what makes it so famous.

    Cormac McCarthy's earliest books were really complex, too. They were unbelievably descriptive with pages and pages of stream-of-consciousness to the point where you could barely even follow it, then he seemed to do an about-face where he watered it down completely and wrote in a much more simplistic way.

    Ah well. Who knows? There's no rhyme or reason to any of it, but it's definitely interesting to compare them.:)
     
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    :confused:
     
  22. DromedaryLights
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    DromedaryLights Active Member

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    Totally. I wouldn't say I'm not impressed by Hemingway so much as I would say that I'm not sure his style would have the same impact if I came to it unprepared, or without historical context. In a way it's easier to dismiss it because, ironically, we can't even imagine what the current literary landscape would look like without his influence. Let me rephrase that.

    It seems to me that his greatest triumphs were of taste and restraint, rather than of technical brilliance. Sort of like the Ramones (really, bare with me). It's a lot easier to be in the Ramones than it is to be in Dragonforce, but whoever recognized that there was a niche for the Ramones to fill (possibly one of them, possibly a manager or something), and that they had something new to offer, something that people would respond to, was still pretty brilliant -- arguably even more brilliant than a virtuoso who has simply pushed boundaries of speed and technique without really contributing new vocabulary.
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2014
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  23. Alexa C. Morgan
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    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Maltese_Falcon_(novel)
    I was commenting on his journal entry (see above -DromedaryLights's) style - which I find pretty sarcastic witty and humorous. I see now my allegory was/is lost in translation. Oh, I see. Those thread replies are confusing to me hence I might not have replied to his journal directly but to your response instead. Pardon me sir!
     
  24. DromedaryLights
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    DromedaryLights Active Member

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    For what it's worth, I understood your comment, @Alexa C. Morgan. Thanks!
     
  25. aikoaiko
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    aikoaiko Contributing Member

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    Exactly. It's very hard to determine the value of a building block. Or its impact, so to speak.:)
     
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