BioBooksAwardsComing NextContactBlogFun StuffHome

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Looking Backward

As the corporate showdown between Amazon and Macmillan continues, I wanted to remind everyone that you can still buy my books and preorder In the Darkest Night (March 30, 2010 release) at Barnes & Noble, Borders, Books a Million, Powell's, as well as many others. Until the situation is resolved, I'll be adding this to my blog posts, but after today, I promise to put it at the end of the post so you can skip it if you'd like.

* * *

One of the interesting things about writing is looking back at what you did previously and seeing how much you've changed and grown. I remember after my first book, Ravyn's Flight, was out and I was working on The Power of Two. I lamented to a much more tenured author how much better I was as a writer now and how I wished I could go back and rewrite my first book.

She asked me if I'd done the best job I could with the book. I told her yes. And of course I had. I'm an obsessive perfectionist which is part of why I'm a slower writer. This other author told me that as long as I'd done the best job I could, I had to accept that and move on. Wise advice.

Right now, I'm experiencing another moment like this.

I turn in all my books long, I've never come in for a single title work at less than 400 pages. Actually, I think 412 manuscript pages is the shortest. But I've had some of my early books come in at 463 manuscript pages. Lately, I haven't been that long, pulling to a close around 420 page or so and I was wondering why my stories are shorter now than they were. As I listen to Through a Crimson Veil on tape, I'm figuring it out. Boy, I used a lot of words. ;-)

I love Crimson Veil and Mika and Conor, but as I listen, I keep thinking, I should have cut that sentence/paragraph(s) or wow, I used a lot of extra words there. And I realized that I write tighter now. Before, I had to go back and deliberately spend weeks cutting things down to get them tight, and as my book on iPod shows, I wasn't always as hard line on the cutting as I could have been. Now, though, I write tight the first time around and I don't need to trim out that much.

It's an interesting thing to hit me. Once you reach a certain point as a writer, the growth is incremental and I stopped noticing how it's evolved. But wow, has it been happening even while I wasn't paying attention.

I'm sure there are still extra words in my work. I tend to be chatty in writing, although in person, I'm very quiet and tend to listen more than talk. I think some of my written chattiness manifests itself in my writing, but there are less unnecessary words now. Less unnecessary sentences. And I like this. I think my stories read faster and with a crispness that wasn't quite there earlier. I still love my earlier work, don't get me wrong about that. (And it's not because I'm infatuated with myself as a writer, but rather because I just love my characters so much. Each and every one of them.)

Um, sorry, I digressed. But the point is that even when we don't realize how much our writing is changing, it is evolving and sometimes it's really worth looking backward to see it for ourselves. It's humbling, but also an incredible rush.