Those of you who write have probably had this experience: you read a published story or novel and it makes you go, “I can write better than that.”
And if you’re honest with yourself about your talent and skill, it’s true. You can.
And if you’re me, you have to admit that whatever novel it is that you’ve just read has one shining virtue that yours doesn’t: it’s done.
And that, gentles, is something that can no longer stand.
I’ve had The First Hour of Night on the shelf since I got back from Viable Paradise XII. I’ve worked on it in little bits here and there since then, but to be honest, it’s been dead in the water. I excerpted the first thirty pages as my submission piece for VP, and for that submission I had to also include a synopsis of the rest of the novel. Which meant that I had to figure out how the story ended before I wrote it. This, for me, is not really a good thing. I write by the headlight method–imagine, if you would, that writing a story is like driving a car at night: you can only see so far ahead of you, but if you’re paying attention, that’s enough to get you home. I freely admit that this is probably the least efficient and messiest way to write, but frankly, it’s the way I know how, and the way that I know works for me. So outlining and synopsizing the novel pretty much took all the joy out of it for me: I mean, why bother finishing it if I already knew how it turned out?
And then last week, I read Ken Scholes’ Lamentation. Now, it’s not a bad first novel. It’s a bit hackneyed in places and the pacing is off, but it largely works. That said, I got thrown out of the story on the third paragraph of the first chapter and had to give it a moment before coming back to it. Oh, and why the fuck do medievaloid characters use the word “okay” in their frigging speech? Yes, I get that the author may be in fact implying that the world he’s showing us is our own in the far, far post-apocalypse-magic-is-sufficiently-ad
All this to say: Lamentation jumpstarted my interest in The First Hour of Night. I want to get it done. Okay, sure I know how it goes, but in the doing, it might surprise me. God knows, that always happens when I write a story–I think it’s going one way, doing this thing, and then it turns out that it’s actually doing this other thing, too, and oh, look, isn’t that shiny right over there?
So, thanks, Ken Scholes. I greatly appreciate the kick in the ass.
Now, back to the novel.