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Tony (Tony)
Username: Tony

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.170.178.4
Posted on Tuesday, November 24, 2009 - 03:20 pm:   

I've just subbed a short to Weird Tales that suddenly became complete crap the moment I pressed 'send'. Does that happen to everyone? Is it a sign when we feel confident or not, that if we feel a piece is bad or good then it might be?

Also, why did my 'voice' change the moment I decided to polish a tale for money? Most of the places I've subbed to offer you free books, but not dough. Why, the moment I start typing for a big magazine, do I sense my voice changing, becoming more generic? It felt like a horrible experience I can't undo.
Also, I really, really felt myself striving to be good when I wrote the piece, and realised I'm not as learned or word-powerful (see?) as I want to be. It shocked me because it made me realise we can't get any cleverer than we are... again, a horrible feeling.
Any thoughts?
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Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 75.4.226.67
Posted on Tuesday, November 24, 2009 - 04:24 pm:   

I just think the artist's own mind tends to be a terrible judge of his or her own work. Mostly this is because you know it all, backwards, forwards, the alternatives you didn't opt for, the misshapen possibilities, the lyrical depths, the very mundane reality of word-hunting and sentence-hammering, etc. Your vision is so God-like, seeing past present and future, that it's almost difficult to see it for what it IS.

And so, reactions so tend to judge how we think. When we send it out and hear nothing, a sinking feeling commences... suddenly the whole thing takes on the color of the negative, the mistakes and missteps that we are sure now that make up the entire piece... then we get a positive response, and the whole thing shifts, heady joy and ecstasy over the work's sheer brilliance....

I think one gets to a point where it's about the work, and completing the work, and trusting in the "artistry" it contains. Like stage actors who refuse to read reviews of their shows while they're running, because too much criticism or praise will destroy the delicate state of their sweat-inducing... the word is escaping me, dammit... effort... ugh, a better way of putting that there surely must be.....
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Stephen Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Tuesday, November 24, 2009 - 04:26 pm:   

Send me the story and I'll let you know.
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Tony (Tony)
Username: Tony

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.170.178.4
Posted on Tuesday, November 24, 2009 - 05:02 pm:   

Done, Stephen!
Craig; that sums it up perfectly. I love that.
Are you SURE you won't go out with me?
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Tony (Tony)
Username: Tony

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.170.178.4
Posted on Tuesday, November 24, 2009 - 05:03 pm:   

You see, I just dug up an old story I decided not to enter for a comp. It's finished, practically, and it's utterly lovely. Am I a complete asshole?
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Alexicon (Alexicon)
Username: Alexicon

Registered: 10-2009
Posted From: 88.106.27.117
Posted on Tuesday, November 24, 2009 - 05:48 pm:   

Tony...Craig...Fantastic posts! They make one want to delve into massive self-analysis.

You write something and you think it's great. You put it away to simmer for a month or two. You take it out again,look at it and think,'This is shit'.
You put it away again for 9 months.Take it out,read it,and think.'This is bloody good.'

You repeat this process so many times...In the end the material never goes out.

Must contemplate this deeply - preferably nude and wearing only my WW2 gas mask.
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Carolinec (Carolinec)
Username: Carolinec

Registered: 06-2009
Posted From: 82.38.75.85
Posted on Tuesday, November 24, 2009 - 06:04 pm:   

>>You write something and you think it's great. You put it away to simmer for a month or two. You take it out again,look at it and think,'This is shit'.
You put it away again for 9 months.Take it out,read it,and think.'This is bloody good.'

You repeat this process so many times...In the end the material never goes out.<<

This sounds just like me - probably the reason why I'm not properly published.
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Alexicon (Alexicon)
Username: Alexicon

Registered: 10-2009
Posted From: 88.106.27.117
Posted on Tuesday, November 24, 2009 - 06:24 pm:   

Actually,Caroline,I think it's time we faced up to it: we are both nondescript.
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Carolinec (Carolinec)
Username: Carolinec

Registered: 06-2009
Posted From: 82.38.75.85
Posted on Tuesday, November 24, 2009 - 06:42 pm:   

Well, I am, that's true - but not you, Alex. Who ever you are, I'm pretty sure you've got some excellent publications on your CV.
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Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 75.5.14.251
Posted on Tuesday, November 24, 2009 - 09:00 pm:   

Buy me roses, Tony, and I might consider it....
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Gcw (Gcw)
Username: Gcw

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 81.155.105.158
Posted on Tuesday, November 24, 2009 - 10:48 pm:   

I know from my point of view, that on a good day, I think my new album is great..On a bad one, the worst, most embarrassing piece of shit possible.

Today, I have just spent a couple of hours tracking some lovely violins & cellos...So today...Is a good day.

gcw
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Ramsey Campbell (Ramsey)
Username: Ramsey

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 195.93.21.74
Posted on Wednesday, November 25, 2009 - 12:14 pm:   

As soon as I completed typing Demons by Daylight I decided it was so worthless that I seriously felt I would be wasting money on the postage to send it to August Derleth. The only reason I sent it was that I'd spent so much time typing the thing.

Depression comes with creativity, in my experience and observation. I'd go so far as to say it's a necessary component, for me at any rate. I wish it weren't, but that's quite another matter.
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Carolinec (Carolinec)
Username: Carolinec

Registered: 06-2009
Posted From: 82.38.75.85
Posted on Wednesday, November 25, 2009 - 12:19 pm:   

>>As soon as I completed typing Demons by Daylight I decided it was so worthless that I seriously felt I would be wasting money on the postage to send it to August Derleth.<<

I'm so glad you re-thought that at the time, Ramsey - Demons.. and Dark Companions were the first books that introduced me to your work.
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Allybird (Allybird)
Username: Allybird

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 80.47.125.246
Posted on Wednesday, November 25, 2009 - 12:35 pm:   

'Depression comes with creativity' True for me, too. I sometimes struggle against depression, as many of my writer friends do. It is just something I have to live with but I do my best never to let it affect others.
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Hubert (Hubert)
Username: Hubert

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 78.22.228.92
Posted on Wednesday, November 25, 2009 - 01:18 pm:   

I seriously felt I would be wasting money on the postage to send it to August Derleth

Do you recall Derleth's reaction to the manuscript, Ramsey? I don't believe this is on record anywhere.
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Joel (Joel)
Username: Joel

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 217.37.199.45
Posted on Wednesday, November 25, 2009 - 02:06 pm:   

Great to read this thread though I'm sorry you had the experience that triggered it, Tony.

Reading your own work can be painful, whether it's in print or not. Scott Walker said he never listens to his own records, doesn't own copies.

I've learnt by experience not to revise my own work when in the 'wrong' mood i.e. the mood to delete or tear up every copy. I revise on hard copy first, because it's too easy to get delete-happy on the keyboard. My favourite word is 'stet'.

When editing your own work, you have GOT to be able to listen to your own voice. Otherwise it will be like a kid in the playground mocking your voice, chanting "MWEAH MWEAH MWEAH" at you until you can't stand it.

If you can hear your own voice, you can edit the words. To mix metaphors, you can iron out the wrinkles and pluck off the loose threads. But if not, you might as well be editing a bowl of alphabet pasta shapes: none of it means anything and it all smells like a factory.

I've had more actual success with stories of mine that I wasn't quite so keen on than with the ones I liked most. Therefore I try to edit with a view to maintaining a certain standard of language use, and let other people decide whether they like the story as a whole. Unless, obviously, the story clearly doesn't work at all, in which case I probably won't have finished it.

If you're reading through one of your own stories and it reads much worse than you expected, that may be your mood at the time. Put the story away and come back to it.

Keep in mind what you wanted to say, and assess how well you said it. If it was the wrong thing to say, or if your story was fundamentally ill-conceived, that's for others to judge. All you can do with a story that really has failed is put it aside and work on something new.

Bear in mind that Arthur Rimbaud, asked his opinion of his own (brilliant and groundbreaking) poetry, said: "Ridiculous! Absurd! Disgusting!"
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Zed (Gary_mc)
Username: Gary_mc

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 213.219.8.243
Posted on Wednesday, November 25, 2009 - 02:12 pm:   

Here are my hard-learned tips:

-Doubt everything you have ever written.

-Leave a gap between writing and editing.

-Read aloud when editing and mark the edits with a pen (my preference is red) on a hard copy before even approaching a computer.

-Realise and accept (even embrace) the fact that your own judgement of your work is fundamentally flawed and what you've produced is probably a lot better than you think it is.

Then, when it's all done, just move on to the next project.
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Hubert (Hubert)
Username: Hubert

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 78.22.228.92
Posted on Wednesday, November 25, 2009 - 03:32 pm:   

Leave a gap between writing and editing

Very important, this.

Also, every so often I like to show selected bits and pieces to a critical friend. If it's rubbish, he's going to say so ans tell me why.
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Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 75.4.247.89
Posted on Wednesday, November 25, 2009 - 03:50 pm:   

I would like to speak up for Joel's point of hard-copy editing: to me, it's not about the fear of losing or excising or changing willy-nilly. It's just that there is something inexplicable about it, I'm not sure what it is... but when you read something hard-copy, on actual paper, you get a very different reading experience from reading it on a computer. You can read something 10 times on a computer screen - the 11th time on that screen will be much like the others, but the 11th time finally in hard-copy form?... A very different, illuminating experience. You see things you can't see on a computer screen. A final (or, at least one, more if you can) "hard-copy read" is essential final component of any editing process.
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Alexicon (Alexicon)
Username: Alexicon

Registered: 10-2009
Posted From: 88.106.83.177
Posted on Wednesday, November 25, 2009 - 03:53 pm:   

To learn that others (including RC) grapple with this manic-depressive writing demon is heartening indeed. Connected to this are many other questions. For example: does your material seem to work better for you psychologically when it contains much of the essential 'you',as opposed to a straight-jacketed product which you think your market requires?

Questions for another time and place perhaps.

Fundamentally then,a personally-uplifting thread.

Well done,Tony.
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Tony (Tony)
Username: Tony

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 213.122.107.13
Posted on Wednesday, November 25, 2009 - 04:11 pm:   

'Depression comes with creativity'
- I agree entirely. Accepting that is a step toward defeating it - or feeling you have. Thanks for that post Ramsey; illuminating and uplifting to hear it.

'I try to edit with a view to maintaining a certain standard of language use'
- I've just been doing this. If I've fought a story into shape then it's all there is left to do. It seems to work.

'Does your material seem to work better for you psychologically when it contains much of the essential 'you',as opposed to a straight-jacketed product which you think your market requires?'
You know, I think this is true. The most personal stuff I'm doing, the minute I eye up a magazine or market, feels steeped in tcp, not remotely me.

And Craig - yes, my pencil and pad stuff feels so alive. I write daily in a cafe before it gets too busy (I can manage busy, however, to be honest) and get more done in that half an hour than I would two in front of the PC. It's just in touch with my mind or whatever in a way a screen isn't. And I LOVE reading my pencil stuff; I'm a fan of me, when it comes to that...
BTW recently I went on a course led by David Almond. I was sat right next to him and saw the roughs for Skellig (an ok book); they were in pen, in a book just like the ones I use. It was a complete state - literally held together by elastic. Seeing it and the scrawl within was just the best part of the day. Great talking to him, I might add; you feel a smidge of skill rub off on you when you meet a writer so successful.
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Stephen Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Thursday, November 26, 2009 - 04:49 pm:   

Tony, thanks for sending your story (feels like a real privilege) but haven't had a chance to read it yet.

I like to read when in the right mood and circumstances so as to give the story every chance. Hopefully over the weekend and will email you my thoughts.

I'll approach it like the next story in line from reading all my recent anthologies and respond accordingly.
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Gcw (Gcw)
Username: Gcw

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 81.155.105.158
Posted on Thursday, November 26, 2009 - 11:16 pm:   

"If you can hear your own voice, you can edit the words. To mix metaphors, you can iron out the wrinkles and pluck off the loose threads. But if not, you might as well be editing a bowl of alphabet pasta shapes: none of it means anything and it all smells like a factory."

Same when I am mixing Joel, I know people who are so in love with peoples performances they can't mix music in perspective " -that piano sounds lovely! - So I must push it up higher!"

That's the kiss of death, soon you have a mess.

The song is paramount, must always come first. I do ask Soozy's opinion on mixes, and i take on what she says, but ultimately... I make the call!

(So you can blame me if you don't like the album mix!:-))

gcw
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Stephen Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Wednesday, December 02, 2009 - 06:02 pm:   

Tony, read your story which was quite brilliant!

Will email further thoughts direct to you when I get a chance... it gave me plenty of food for them.
You're a very fine writer indeed imho.
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Tony (Tony)
Username: Tony

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 81.155.203.48
Posted on Monday, December 07, 2009 - 03:24 pm:   

Stephen! Send it!
I'm so needy.... :-(
(and thank you!!!)
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Stephen Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Tuesday, December 08, 2009 - 04:45 pm:   

Finally got those thoughts written up and emailed, Tony.

Hope you find them helpful.
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Thomasb (Thomasb)
Username: Thomasb

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 69.236.163.225
Posted on Wednesday, December 09, 2009 - 01:23 am:   

Excellent and relevant thread. All those issues churn in my heart, mind and soul about everything I write. I think of myself as *extremely* exacting with my work, but I fool myself so often. What I think is my best work and what others think rarely ever matches. My worst they love; my best, they shrug. Once in awhile, I get thrashed.

Speaking of getting thrashed, I was brutally mugged ten years ago on a dark San Francisco street and recently decided to write a reminiscence about the incident at http://www.redroom.com/articlestory/take-long-way-home

Feel free to uh, beat me up . . . .

Again, great thread!
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Mark West (Mark_west)
Username: Mark_west

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 217.39.177.173
Posted on Wednesday, December 09, 2009 - 11:04 am:   

Great thread, though sorry Tony that you were in that position. It is good though, to hear writers I respect and admire having exactly the same thoughts as I do (if you see what I mean).

I'm also finding, as time goes on, that my worry about not finding the voice or the flow affects me before I even start, making that milestone even harder than it need be!
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Allybird (Allybird)
Username: Allybird

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 80.47.27.75
Posted on Wednesday, December 09, 2009 - 12:43 pm:   

Thomas - Really sorry that happened to you.
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Tony (Tony)
Username: Tony

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 81.132.170.90
Posted on Wednesday, December 09, 2009 - 03:40 pm:   

Thomas - I heard recently a young black male going on death row has a higher life expectancy than one still out on the streets.
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Tony (Tony)
Username: Tony

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 81.132.170.90
Posted on Wednesday, December 09, 2009 - 03:40 pm:   

Mark - I'm fine. Just feeling like all of you.
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Thomasb (Thomasb)
Username: Thomasb

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 69.236.163.225
Posted on Thursday, December 10, 2009 - 07:08 pm:   

Thanks Ally!

Tony: I haven't heard that stat, but I do understand that prison is NOT good for your health!

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