Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Does practice make adequate?

Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad, and a lot of how it feels depends on perspective. I think my writing has changed for the better, because practice makes perfect, right? Or at the very least, practice should make adequate.
Cleaning out our spare bedroom of cumulated clutter, I ran across a box of stories from my college creative writing classes from back in the early 90s. I loved Dr. Guillory—he let me write about any topic I wanted, even scatological and politically incorrect ones. Reading over his notes, I felt good about my skill, and my grades were always high. His most frequent comment indicated that I shouldn’t have so many short paragraphs.
            I suppose he had a point…
            I’ve evolved, though, right? I can put together a full paragraph.
There are writers out there who I loved, but then their writing evolved, and I moved on. Dean Koontz is one of them. After Odd Thomas, I started having my mom screen his books for me. And the book Harvest by Tess Gerritsen gave me nightmares because it was—
Just. That. Good.
After that, I picked up everything with her name on it, because I knew it’d be great. Then she moved on to the Rizzoli and Isles series with a main character that, even though I tried, I couldn’t make myself like. So I moved on as well.
            Yes, I want to become a better writer. But do I really want to flop out on land and grow legs? I think so. And how many appendages are too many before a writer evolves so much that they begin to disappoint loyal readers? As a reader myself, it doesn’t take but a couple dissatisfying novels before I start shopping around. Does that make me disloyal? Probably, but I know what I like.
            I know that my writing has changed. After reading a few of the stories I’d written in Dr. G’s classes, I can see that I have improved. My style and voice have changed, and I’ve moved from broad to more subtle humor—and if you don’t consider me subtle, you should have seen my earlier work.

Yes, change is good, and practice makes _____________.
I’ve left the blank for you to fill in, because only YOU know YOU and what belongs there.
For me, I would use the word “perfect.” Now the challenge is living up to my own expectations.
Holy crap! What is that bump on my arm?

1 comment:

S.B. Stewart-Laing said...

I think that we put so much of ourselves into our writing that it can't *help* but evolve as we learn and mature (well, I like to think I learn...sometimes. But I'm an adult who still thinks that YouTube videos of people getting bonked in the head with golf balls are hilarious, so I've given up on "maturity").