Thursday, September 13, 2007

Growing or Dying

Are you growing your writing talent?

In a recent article about JK Rowling, written by none other than Stephen King, the master of horror pays compliment after compliment to the children's fantasy writer. (I'll bet JK just earned even more readers.) King's comment, "Talent is never static, it's always growing or dying . . ." got me thinking.

We could all probably name ways to grow our talent of writing. Reading books in your genre, writing classes, writers conferences, critique groups . . . it can be overwhelming when you add it all up. But have you ever noticed that some authors seem to let their talent slide, or get too comfortable and subsequent books start to sound the same? I'm not talking about an author's voice--that doesn't need to change. But the characters, the plot situations, and the locations all seem to blend together until a title of a book no longer brings the story to mind.

A friend of mine told me that when you're unpublished, you're writing from your heart. When you become published, you start writing for your editor. This is true in many ways. But as writers we have an obligation to continue growing in our craft. Although with book two or three our writing might be more mechanical than intuitive, we need to deliver a better product each time.

That's where I agree with Stephen King. The writing in JK's books get better with each volume. I noticed the same thing with Meyer's Twilight series. And we should hope it is the case with our own work. If the first novel you ever wrote is still unpublished, that might be a good thing.

When I look back at my early attempts--more than attempts since I have three unpublished books--I realize that every rejection was a blessing. If any one of those books had made it to the bookshelf, the reviewers would have torn them apart bit by bit. If I were to go back to those unpublished works and revise, I would probably end up rewriting entire chapters. I still love the characters, I still love the plots, I still love the endings, but I was at point A in my writing career. Now I'm at point H or G . . . hoping to continue moving forward.

So look at writing as a journey. Your novels will grow, change, and sometimes turn inside out. But that's a good thing. As long as your writing is growing, and not dying, your dreams will be realized. Talent can't be ignored forever.


Karen Hoover said...

You really got me thinking today, Heather. Thank you for sharing your insight on this. I certainly hope I'm one who will keep growing. It drives me to no end of crazy when I read a book by an author I loved previously and their books have become stagnant. Like you said, they tell the same story repeatedly, or use the same characters with different names- but they're not nearly as good as they were the first time. I hope to never be that kind of writer. Thanks for helping me find some of the answers I've been looking for.

Josi said...

Loved that line in the article and it is so true. It's so easy, sometimes without knowing it, to rewrite an existing story. It's happened to me a time or two, but I hope I always remain vigilant enough to catch it. There is so much out there to learn

Anna Maria Junus said...

Great post. I managed to get my first novel published, but I'm always trying for something different.

KATE EVANS said...

I like this. Growth is living. Living is growth.

Amber Rigby Grosjean said...

Thank you for this blog post. It does run true. After a while, some writers begin to lose who they are so they just keep writing the same things over and over again. I try to learn as much as I can so I hope I will never get to that point. I hope my imagination never dies either because that is the fertilization that feeds my ideas for my books. I have two now and they are very different and I hope my next one will be just as different even though I will write in the two genres already published. Thank you so much!

Amber Rigby Grosjean