I kind of shocked the Viable Paradise students, I think, when I told them of my complete and utter loathing for most of my own work. This has actually gotten worse as I've become a better writer, because at this juncture, my critical skill set is good enough, and my standards are high enough, that all I can see about one of my own stories anymore is how it fails. I'm experiencing this now, actually, because I am thinking about the two stories I'm going to start revising soon, and how unutterably inadequate they are, and how much work they need, and how incompetent I am to give it to them.
And then starting tomorrow, I'm going to pick one of them up and start picking it apart at the sentence and story and structure level, trying to rebuild it nd make it faster and stronger and more like a functional machine. But all my prose seems to me at best workmanlike, my combat scenes are uninteresting, my POVs don't reveal motive or characterization. The exposition is clunky, the resolutions crudely handled, and the whole thing goes over like a lead balloon. It's all full of structural issues. The few sentences I do like, nobody else does.
Also, thematically, it's all just shit.
I've become such a freaking whiner. I can't stand myself.
And it's such an odd thing, because my editorial hand with other people's work has gotten reasonably deft. I'm pretty good at critique, and I can spot what's working, analyze structure, complicate a plot. I can usually even find things to praise.
But when it comes to writing my own stuff it all feels like dross, and all I can see is where it could be better.
Some of it, I think, is that I since I learned to write, I've lost the ability to just write. It's all hyperintellectualized, thought through, and every sentence goes through a series of wringers trying to make it tighter and smarter and harder-working. It's all got to pull its weight. I can't slip into that trance-state I used to anymore, and emerge with 1500 words on the page and no clear recollection of how they got there.
The downside to this, of course, is that those easy altered-state words were lousy words, in rotten stories.
On the other hand, now I can write stories that people understand. Because back in the day, I wasn't so good at translating the weird pattern-building of my nonstandard brain for others. And actually, I suspect that's why, these days, so much of what I write feels flatter to me, even though it gets better critical and reader response. Because I have trained myself to translate from how I think to how other people think, to put stuff in linear order and make sure there's a clearly-defined through-line rather than a pointillist series of events that makes what is to me a subtle and inexprable pattern, but to everybody else looks like a bunch of random dots.
That through-line thing is hard. Easy to recognize, when something doesn't have it--or doesn't have the right kind of through-line for your own particular thought patterns to pick up on. It seems to lack causality. There does not seem to be an evolution of motive and action that brings each character though the story.
But so much of it, for me, is what I sense--the shape of the story--and those things that seem perfectly obvious and inevitable to me often make no sense to others. So I worry about belaboring the point.
I'm very good, naturally, at induction. Not so good at deduction or following rigid sequences of things. But I've learned, and in the process, that part of my brain that sees stories as a gestalt has gotten very frustrated with the writing. Because these new stories are not webworks but chains, I don't love them, because I am predisposed to love webworks.
So I'm trying to figure out how to do things that are both--chains for you guys, and webworks for me, and it's hard and frustrating. And I'm pretty savage to myself when I think I've made an inadequate effort. Which is, of course, in everything I do.
Intellectually, I know I'm pretty good at this. And yet--all I can see is how it's never good enough.
(Yes, I pretty much bring this attitude to every endeavor in my life. Is it any wonder that I'm single?)