Horses, And Getting Back On Them

Posted: August 19, 2008 in Ink & Feather
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

I’ve been pretty quiet on the blog front lately, mostly because being fired tends to necessitate a different, more productive use of one’s spare time, despite the fact that said time has, for the same reason, undergone a net increase. Apart from the obvious job-hunting chores, I’ve also been doing uni work and editing my novel. The latter activity has been particularly enjoyable. If my writing life were an RPG, I’d have recently levelled up, because my ability to self-correct has suddenly leapt forwards. In the past, frantic editing surges have usually resulted in scrapping the lot and starting again, but while I’m definitely rewriting en masse, it’s with an eye to building up instead of tearing down. Chapters I’ve been content with for months are being systematically fleshed out, tightened up and otherwise made over. The question isn’t why I’ve left it so long: it’s why I can suddenly see the flaws.

And flaws there are, ultimately as the result of sloppy writing. It’s a sobering realisation that despite my dedication towards becoming a published author, I’ve still, on some subconscious level, retained the belief that I can do less than my best, and have this be enough. Throughout school, I always coasted and cut corners for a number of reasons – disinterest in the subject, a preference to spend my time on other projects – and while these were usually, if not saintly, then at least defensible reasons, I ultimately did so, or was able to do so, because I was bright enough. Laziness didn’t punish me. Although I cared about being perceived as smart, I wasn’t fiercely competitive: a dip in marks didn’t matter, so long as they were still good marks. Which, looking back, was both a healthy mental attitude on one level, and an active choice not to be challeneged on another. Quite often, my parents would look at my results, sigh affectionately, and say, “Imagine what you could do if you’d put in some effort!” But only now do I understand what they meant.

Since starting the second novel, I’ve improved. Writing characters I’ve already introduced is different to starting anew: there’s an implied confidence to it, with room for more flourishes, in-jokes, insight and general development. It means that when I look back at the story so far, my standards have lifted. But, still, I’d been letting things lie. I’d read the first book so many times that I only saw the cadence of what I’d written, and not the substance. This time around, however, the veil has lifted. It was holding together, yes, but it wasn’t as good as it could be. 

And so I’m fixing it, hammer and nail. After completing the first three chapters, I even submitted yesterday to a local publisher, which gave me a tingly, back-on-the-horse kind of feeling. I still need a job, but in the mean time, I’m getting things done.

Who says getting fired can’t be a good thing?

  1. Lancelot says:

    I might begin a blog myself. One where I remember the password and contribute material and don’t leave a web trail of contentless blog pages with silly pseudonynms that were funny at the time. Have you ever been perplexed by discovering a blank page in the name of Lord Ruddy Hurling, for example? I even once met a fellow at a party who claimed to have put “nothing” on the internet. I searched, and lo and behold, albeit a few years back, there it was, in all its’ English sense of humour glory.
    There’s nothing wrong with being lazy ar school. It’s an ideal training for being lazy at work. Since deciding to drop out of the money world alrogether, or as near as possible, dammit, it has turned out for me to have been an excellent training for being lazy at laziness.
    Mr P. King, my pipe smoking English master, who had a Pharoanic cranial form with a distinctive receding hairline, once told me: “Your problem, Lancelot, is that you are bone idle!”.
    He was only half right, of course. The half of the problem to which he was blind, devilishly difficult to discerne in ones self, was his own projection, his own thought created world, in which there is an implicit assumption of non bone idleness associated with the general good.
    Now I had better not start on this theme or I shall be here all night. But let me just encourage any reader to reflect on how many of the gross ills of the world would be ameliorated by mass and general bone idleness. Since nearly all the worlds man-made ills are the result of stupidity, imagine further that idleness should be enforced where ever and when ever people want to do something stupid. Now you start to get the picture.
    Hooray for bone idleness, I say.

  2. fozmeadows says:

    Huzzah! There’s a song by Flanders & Swan called The Sloth, which dad declared to be the Grahame Family Anthem, because of a verse which goes like this:

    ‘I could climb the very highest Himalayas,
    be among the greatest ever tennis players,
    win at chess or marry a princess
    or study hard and be an emminent professor,
    I could be a millionaire, play the clarinet,
    travel everywhere,
    learn to cook, catch a crook,
    win a war then write a book about it,
    I could be a Mona Lisa,
    I could be another Caesar,
    compose an oritorio which was sublime –
    the door’s not shut
    on my genius, but
    I just
    don’t have
    the time!’

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