I wrote earlier today was rather cryptic, so I'll try to explain some of what I've been thinking about and what I meant by 'the creaking of rusty gears.'
I've known this myself, but reading through wen_spencer
's journal made it plain: I have not been acting like someone whose goal is to become a professional writer. I haven't been for several years.
I've been writing things, but I haven't written them with any considered thought given to organization and structure, to pacing, to stakes, or anything else. I have not been writing with any sense of, "First I need to achieve this goal, then this goal, then this goal, so that I can earn enough of a reputation as a professional for a publishing company to risk buying a novel from me."
Sorry, but Nanowrimo doesn't cut it. Nano is fun, and I enjoy doing it, but there's more to writing a novel than just getting the words down on paper. There really is work involved, and I haven't been doing it.
So I've decided I need to restructure my life. Start practicing the basic craft of writing the short story. Master the short story. From there, work on one novel concept at a time and master the novel. Start submitting them for publication. Stop sitting around on my ass.
I know part of this period of the doldrums was due to the cataract. The only fiction book I have really
read in at least six or so years was Order of the Phoenix.
Purchasing it was my gift to myself, my act of faith that the cataract surgery would be successful. The surgery did succeed, but my sight isn't as 'good' as it used to be. Reading unaided is difficult now, instead of the effortless thing it used to be. Now, magnification equipment is a distinct help.
For this reason, I haven't read much fiction in years. I've spent my money on non-fiction because 1. It interested me and 2. I didn't want to expend the energy that reading now requires on entertainment. If I was going to go through the effort of reading something, I wanted to learn interesting facts about the real world from it, not read a fantasy story. I had to justify the tiredness.
This is a silly attitude, I know. Writers read fiction not just for enjoyment, but to learn from it--to observe and study what works in a novel and what doesn't--and to study why
it does or doesn't work, so they can apply that wisdom to their own novels. One of the few books I did read, which was along these same lines, was Donald Maas' Writing the Breakout Novel,
which is a brilliant book that I recommend to anyone who wishes to become a professional writer.
So anyway...I need to practice writing short stories for real, once more, and I need to start reading fiction to learn. I need to start studying the markets, and I need to start submitting what I write for publication. I'm supposed to get a CCTV for my home soon. When I do, I need to put it to an efficient use.