Oh no, this isn’t the best thing I’ve ever written. Sorry, that title maybe a little misleading. This is about the best thing I’ve ever written, sort of.
I’ve always tried to be upfront with all my readers that I am fairly new at the writing game. It’s not secret that I didn’t start writing novels until about two and a half years ago.
When I wrote my first novel it was the best thing I had ever written. In truth, it sucked. A lot. But since I hadn’t written anything else it was the best ever. The second novel I wrote was even better. (It still sucked, but it sucked less) I mean, I had practice. Of course it came out better. How couldn’t it?
The third novel I wrote (Beasts of Burdin, the first thing I ever had published) was the best up till that point. With B.o.B I discovered how to write in my own voice and that was a huge forward step. It still needed a lot of love before it was ready to be cuddled by tens of readers all over the world, but J. Taylor Publishing saw promise and gave it the through edit it needed.
After that I wrote the sequel to B.o.B. Going through edits with the first book taught me a lot, so clearly the sequel was even better.
Now, I get to my point. The next thing I wrote was an urban fantasy. I liked it. I liked the world and the characters. Beta readers? They all agreed that it wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t as good as the Burdin books. My big, giant rug of wordsmithering ego was ripped out from under me. For the first time in my life, the newest book wasn’t the best.
I panicked. I wondered if I had lost my touch or if Burdin was the only good character I was capable of writing. I thought for sure I would never write anything interesting again. Who knows, maybe I haven’t.
This is a good time to note that most authors are wound up balls of self-loathing and caffeine (liquor if they’re old school or hybrids that alternate between the two) to begin with. As a matter of fact, author Joriah Wood has probably quit writing forever twice in the time it has taken you to read this post. We all hate what we are working on at the moment, but usually calm down when the project is done. Doubting a project that you have spent HOURS on is pretty crushing stuff.
After a hefty edit by the talented Linda Murphy (who has just started her own editing service, hint hint, wink wink) the novel in question was transformed into something much prettier on the eyes. One day I hope to share it with you guys, but there’s a time and a place for that.
Currently, I’m working on Burdin 3 (Ty Down, for those curious) and guess what? I think it’s the best thing I’ve ever written. Maybe I am set to write Burdin forever, but I doubt it. Maybe the next novel I write well be the best thing I’ve ever written. Maybe it will be terrible and all my friends will point and laugh at the literary failure I’ve become. It’s quite possible, really.
My biggest point is this: if you are writing novels or short stories or poetry or music or painting pictures or writing out plans for world domination to sell off to the highest bidder; what you’re working on right this moment might not be the best thing you’ve ever done, but that doesn’t make it bad. Or hell, even if it is bad, that doesn’t mean your next project will be. Find out what worked about the “bad” project and reuse that in something else later. Then, find out what didn’t work and vow to not do that next time.
Art, of any kind, is a skill that can never be perfected. I bet Hendrix found flaws in his music, Hemmimgway probably found them in his writing, and Mr. Keebler may have even find some in his cookie recipes. I have my doubts about that last one, but the first two are probably solid examples. Maybe. The only way to improve toward deity-esque flawlessness is to keep learning and keep working. That is all.