Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Distance Of Time

There has only been one book that, in the instant I completed it, I was satisfied with - Salvation Day.  Everything else, from Akeldama to Wrongful Death, I've looked at with some degree of, "Geez, I really could've done better."  They felt shallow, but compared to Salvation Day, anything would look shallow.

However, I've also put each of these away for a while and waited before going back in.  What this has created is professional distance in relation to time, and it has shown me that I'm nearly incapable to objectively examining my own work in the immediate aftermath of its completion.  The most recent example of this has been my science fiction work, Homecoming.

I've recently begun working on that novel's prequel, so I've had to go back and regain perspective so that the books would maintain consistency.  I actually dreaded going back into Homecoming because I thought it lacked flow and that I'd have to rewrite large portions of it before publication.  I still have some editing to do, but it's nowhere near what I was worried about.

Re-reading the entire book recently, I was surprised at how well it held up.  Yes, this sounds like bragging, and maybe it is, but it's a pretty coherent story that maintained my interest.  I found that the plot proceeded logically from one point to the next, and it created legitimate tension.  That surprised me because I thought it felt rushed when I was done writing it, so I put it away for a while, thinking that it wasn't up to snuff.

Of course, that was when I remembered that I had the exact same reaction to everything I've written except my first book.  Once the story has had some time to breath, it's always better than I remembered.  It's as if time itself allows me to look at it new again, and that my emotional immersion while writing makes me overly critical in the moment.

This has reinforced the lesson that everything needs to rest.  If I can remember this in the future, it'll keep me from panicking when I'm done with the first draft.  I almost always think my writing is for losers as soon as it's done; giving myself time and space to go back later lets me gain perspective that might otherwise prevent me from ever publishing anything new again.

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