I’ve learned a few things via my critiquing group. As a semi-professional ranter, I’m use to digging my heels in and fighting the fight BUT that doesn’t mean I can’t/won’t accept when I’m wrong or see the flaw in my argument.
Writing – mine, yours, anybody’s – matures as you travel down the literary path. It’s not set in stone, in fact it is, for most, an experiment. A trying on of different styles or methods. It’s like… well the best description I can think of is that it is like a cat settling down for a nap. It circles it’s intended sleep place, it kneads the fabric into the desired fluffiness and then it settles down. This process can take several minutes. That is what writing is like. You feel your way until you settle into that writing chair. You stop trying to use mechanics and you write.
What brought me to this revelation? A series of ‘a-ha’ moments.
First, Monday night I attended my critiquing group meeting (Ya, writers anonymous). I wasn’t having anything critiqued, I had to participate in the group critiquing. Now I hardly feel qualified to do this. Hell, I can’t get the grammar and punctuation correct in my own work, who am I then to tell someone else how they’re doing? What I do enjoy is pointing out word use, suggesting additional descriptions, reading beyond the words and just falling into the stories of excellent writers. Over the course these critiques, I’ve seen their writing improve. I was shocked. Afterall, writing is writing, isn’t it? Apparently not.
Secondly, the other day I wrote a section for my second novel Appetites and as always I gave it to my wife Sue to read. She may not be ‘into’ horror or thrillers, but she does appreciate good writing (I hope I fall into that category). When she was done, she said that my writing is maturing. Hunh… so it’s happening to me too.
And finally, I`ve started to read a collection of ‘Tales of Mystery and Imagination‘ by Edgar Allan Poe. While the stories themselves are masterpieces, it was the forewords by Kevin J Hayes, Scott Peeples and Louis A Renza. More precisely, the introduction by Kevin J Hayes. In it he spoke about Poe’s various writing styles and the fact that he constantly experimented with new techniques and crossed genre lines. Ultimately it was his first person point of view and how he manipulated that and through it, the reader that struck a chord with me.
I’ve spent way too much time trying to wedge Echoes into some cookie cutter mold for my query letters. Is it Literary fiction, horror, thriller, mystery or gothic? I just wrote it. I wasn’t concerned with how it fit anywhere, I enjoyed mucking about in my protagonist’s head and by extension, the reader. I gave no thought as to how to categorize it.
Well, no more. I’m going to say it is a gothic thriller and leave it be. It won’t stand in my way anymore. Time to push it aside and concentrate on Appetites. I feel like a weight has been lifted. I’m no longer mired in the mud of self-doubt, spinning my wheels or, more poetically, making mud angels while Appetites suffers.
Don’t worry, I am going to work with an editor on Echoes but as Sue said, maybe Echoes is just the book I cut my teeth on or rather, sharpened my fangs with.
I’ll leave you with a quote from one of my favorite actors, Vincent Price.;
“I sometimes feel that I`m impersonating the dark unconscious of the whole human race. I know it sounds sick, but I love it.”