Marissa Lingen (mrissa) wrote,
Marissa Lingen
mrissa

Improvements

In a locked post, one of the people on my friendslist asked whether the people reading it think we write better now than we did years ago, or whether our writing is different without qualitative improvement. The person specifically asked us to discount workshops and editors unless we think those changed the way we write and not merely the stories affected. I had an answer that I was willing to share beyond that locked post, so here it is, with some additions:

I don't know if I draft better now than I did, but as I'm (slowly, stealthily) reading through my second novel with a red pen in hand, I certainly revise better now than I did then. My first novel has gotten successive revisions for various reasons, but my second novel is a sequel to the first, so after the first pass of revisions about four years ago, it's been untouched. I notice that there are things I would have caught on the first pass now that are still hanging around in this book, and there are combinations of scenes that I would have spotted as not working and reordered/rewritten.

(This is why I haven't been letting my friends read this book, mostly: I knew it needed enough revisions that it's better for me to go through it and scrub it a little before handing it off to even the friendliest of readers.)

Critiques and editorial input have changed some of the things that I spot in revisions, but a lot of it is just doing more, reading more, writing more, seeing more. Just getting there, I guess.

Another thing I do better now than I did before is deal with the whole mess. If you'd told me in '99, when I started writing my first novel, that it would still be unpublished in '05 -- and that I would still think it was worth publishing -- I would have collapsed in despair. I still collapse in despair sometimes, but then I get back up and get going again. When I run into hard bits to write or emotional bumps to get over in the process, I'm much better at seeing them as normal and going on, so I've learned from that.

I think it's valuable for me to look at how I've improved right now. It's very easy to think we're getting nowhere, but the improvements to my writing since I revised The Grey Road about four years ago are really not "nowhere" at all.

And those of you who write, can you see improvement in the last few years? (And are you willing to talk about it?)
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