it's a great life, if you don't weaken (matociquala) wrote,
it's a great life, if you don't weaken

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my sorrows, they learned to swim

I've been toying for a while with this idea that there are certain bits of writing received wisdom that are--after a fashion--koans. In other words, things that seem simple enough on first encounter, but which... unpack. Sometimes endlessly. Iteratively. An example would be "Write what you know," which is a piece of advice that, taken literally, makes no sense--especially to a science fiction or fantasy writer!--but the more I think about it, the more it opens up. It becomes know what you write, but also write from experience... and half a dozen other things.

Lately, an interesting thing has been happening with regard to...not so much koans, I guess... but the tactics I bring to writing fiction. There's so much to learn, so much to grasp... and so much of what I have learned has become conscious skill that sometimes I feel as if I'm trying to juggle seventeen balls at once. I sort of wonder if my current struggles are not so much to learn new things as to integrate the things I have been learning into reflexive rather than conscious action.

Not that writing ever becomes unmindful or automatic. So much of my learning curve over the past thirty years or so has been unlearning so many of the mistakes that I made automatically, primitively--and if I were to stop being conscious of those bad habits, they would tend to creep back up on me. (We've all seen this happen, after all; if you stop practicing and growing in a craft, you tend to regress.)

But I'm not yet within the arc of where I work consciously and mindfully, but comfortably. I am hoping I'm working back in that direction, though.

At least things are a bit less hard than they have been. And so much less concrete, which makes it really hard to blog about writing--because I've stopped learning new, specific, concrete tricks... and it's all kind of vague and amorphous and case by case these days.

And it's very interesting as well to be running all my experiments in public.

I kind of feel in some ways as if I'm gearing up the skills I need to be able to write Gotham Jazz and Smile... now I just need the opportunity to write them, to operate on that level. Not that Shattered Pillars is requiring less intensity and skill... just more practiced ones.

I'm starting to think I might be getting the hang of my job.

Tags: writer koans, writing craft wank

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