Tag Archives: howIwrite

Settling for ‘Good Enough’

Not in your love life (hell no!). But in writing.

I know the ideal is to always strive for perfection, and to keep working until something is the best that it can be, both for yourself and for the thing. It’s Art, dahling.

Frankly? F*** that. In a general sense, I think that striving for perfection damages you. It will never be perfect. It will never be exactly how you want it to. My choice has always been to get it as good as I can, admit the flaws, then move on. I take what I’ve learned and I do better with the next piece.

However, in a specific sense, I do try to get the best I can. I do aim for some level of perfection. I want to write the best work I can; I want to iron out the flaws, fill the plot holes, make the characters tug at the heartstrings. I want my readers to immerse themselves in a story without getting dragged out by flaws or problems.

And most of the time, I succeed. If it’s three major edits and countless minor ones…or another proofread on top of the one I’ve just done…or a complete rewrite…I do want what I push out into the world to be as perfect as it can.

Unfortunately, for one piece that I’ve just completed, I’ve had to just say f*** that. It’s done.

It’s not perfect. It’s good, sure. It’s ok. It’s probably got some flaws and some holes. But meh. It’s as good as it’s going to get.

Part of the problem is that I’ve had so much criticism of the piece that I can’t see where the flaws are any more. I don’t have any distance or confidence in myself to be able to fight back. I’ve been advised to almost completely re-write it, and that is a bit of a shock when I considered something pretty good. Is my judgement flawed? Am I wrong? Am I truly as crap as I feel when I’m reading the critique? I have tried to take the advice on board, tried to be reasonable, and some of it I have accepted and changed. But…at the point that I’m shouting at the screen? At the point I’m nearly in tears? At the point I’m considering giving up writing, because I obviously can’t do this? No. I can’t do more work on this; I just can’t. It’s finished. And that means that my choice at this stage is simple. I put this work out in a format that’s Good But Not Great, or I scrap it. That’s it.

So much as it frustrates me, I have to accept my limitations. I am not perfect, and in this case, I have not achieved the perfection I wanted. It’s not awful, sure. But it’s not as good as I want it to be.

And in this case, I’m fine with that. I make that choice, and move on. I’ll do better next time. I have to do better next time.

And I think that’s what matters: keep learning. Always keep learning.

Old writing: Wizards

More of a character study than a story; I think these figures have made their way into other stories, or are waiting to come out!

The room was large, with several wide windows looking out over the landscape around the castle. Bookshelves lined the walls, holding ragged volumes and assorted dusty ornaments. A desk was placed in the middle of the room, with three chairs around it. A stern-looking woman with short grey hair sat on the other side of the desk. Her calm face broke into a smile as the two entered.

“Polly, Zaain. I’m glad you could come.” she said. “Please sit.”

The two took seats and glanced around the room again. There were several other pieces of ragged furniture, obviously well worn, and tables with assorted odd-looking things on them.

“I see you’re still your cheerful self, Merle.” Zaain said blandly. “Why did you summon us, then, if we’re getting straight to the point?”

“I wanted to see you because of a young wizard we have here.” the woman said. “You two…well, I’d like you to meet him. You have contacts all over the lands, and you might be able to suggest something.”

A knock came at the door, and as Merle called “Come” a young wizard walked in. He shut the door and walked over to stand in front of the desk, ignoring the two seated there.

“Zaain, Polly, this is Kar.  He’s one of our students here.” Merle said neutrally.

Zaain ran a quick professional eye over the youth. He was about sixteen, and had neatly combed brown hair and brown eyes. His expression seemed to be a permanent sneer, and his eyes were cold and ruthless. Zaain assessed him as arrogant and self-important, and wondered if that was the problem. Clearly it was.

Kar turned to the two and looked down his nose at them. “I’m pleased to meet you.” he said with coldly barely concealed disdain. Polly concealed a smile.

“When did you start training?” she asked politely.

“I was born a wizard. I came here a year ago.” Kar said. “I haven’t learned anything that I didn’t know already.”

Zaain raised his eyebrows, politely sceptical. “And where do you come from?”

“The North. My parents are the Duke and Duchess of Robane.” Kar said arrogantly. “Was there anything else?”

“Yes.” Polly said intently, leaning forward. “You have the marks of magical talent. Do some magic. I want to see how powerful a wizard you are.”

“I know I’m a wizard.” Kar said irritably, treating Polly to a scornful glance. “I’m the best wizard there’s ever been. I don’t need some rag-tag person who looks like they’ve just walked out of the caves telling me that. And I don’t need to show you that I am either. I don’t do party tricks.”

And with that he turned on his heel and walked out of the room, his ornate robes swirling around his ankles. Merle gave Polly an “I told you so” look. Polly met Zaain’s eyes and tried not to smile.

“So that’s the problem?” Zaain said.

“Yes. He has got talent…just not as much as he thinks he has. We can’t train him because he thinks he knows everything, and we can’t send him away because we have to train his talent. He could do untold harm if it isn’t controlled.” Merle said in despair. It was so unlike the calm and competent leader that Zaain and Polly knew that they both stared, surprised. Kar really was a problem, then.

What could they do about it?

Old writing: Mugglethorpe

A piece written about a gnoll-type creature, and its adventures…I have no idea what I wanted to happen in the end, but I liked the character!

Singing echoed through the trees; a slightly cracked, not unpleasant voice that broke on the higher notes and resonated on the low ones. It bounced off gnarled trunks and climbed up through the mossy leaves, creating odd echoes and harmonies.

“Knowing the land, knowing the ways, living here ‘til the end of days…” the voice continued, obviously in time with a walking stride. Then the voice lapsed into prose and became more of a happy chatter. “Well, we seen Mumps, and Gnoel…we has got lunch and dinner, and probably supper as well…and we had a good walk. Ent that right, Triffid?”

Triffid doesn’t seem to answer. The voice continued, “And today we be going to plant the mosses, and weed ‘em out as well…and Mumps gives us some seeds to plant as wells. We do that today, okays, Triffid?”

The voice came round the corner, appearing from behind a willowy tree. A small, squat figure, covered with a rather tattered square of material tied with a twisted, gnarled root that traps the fabric very effectively. It carries a small grubby pack on its back, and is followed by something that looks like a large, hairy woodlouse – either that or a spiky pillow on legs. Wandering over to the huge, gnarled specimen that stood to the side of a small clearing, the singer rummaged in the depths beneath the tatty cloak and produced something. Carefully inserting it into a crack in the trunk, the little singing figure turned it and slipped through the crack that appeared, followed by the woodlouse. The trunk snapped shut again and the woodland becomes silent.

Old writing: Earth story

I was branching out into sci-fi, trying to do a futuristic apocalyptic piece about astronauts returning to a broken Earth. Again, it ended up more of a character study than any sort of plot. There is a little more of this but it didn’t really go anywhere – you might be sensing that plots are my weak point!

Kawaii went into the medical room to see the people they had picked up. A vote had been taken, and they had decided to remain at the station until any more information had been gathered. Aver had recruited Lance to help him continue through the records, trying to work out what had happened to their planet.

The three people lay in the beds set into the walls, the healing mists gently curling over them. The Doc chimed as Kawaii walked in.

“Stable and successful.” it said quietly. “Shall I wake them?”

“If you could just wake the girl for the moment, Doc, and leave her slightly sedated? I want to talk to her. Let the other two sleep.”

The mist over the second bunk retreated. Kawaii pulled one of the chairs out of the wall and sat down, watching as the girl’s eyelids flickered. She wasn’t pretty, having a slightly mis-shaped nose and a thin face, but Kawaii could see animation and beauty in the face as the girl awoke. Her character gave shape to her features. She was still bemused as the mist fully retreated, so Kawaii put out a hand to stop her as she tried to sit up.

“Stay there.” she said gently, putting all the reassurance into the tone that she could muster. The head turned towards her, eyes large and an odd grey-green colour, filled with a slight panic and looking a little scared. “I am Kawaii, and you are on the spaceship Starlight. What is your name?”

Ah-ha, so she really was a telepath. Kawaii felt the touch on her mind and smiled, but tried again to get the girl to talk. “Do you have a name? Where are you from?”

A feeling of incomprehension, of curiosity, a slight fear. Kawaii fed reassurances back, and then began to make the link stronger, trying to get images, beginning with the Earth and the bundles tied to the metal, adding a sense of curiosity.

Back came a feeling of time and fear…her fear over their ship? No, other people’s fear of the ship. The choice of three outcasts as a sacrifice, maybe a wonder – they would delay the monster. The vibrations of the ship, and then nothing.

Why her, Kawaii mentally broadcast, why the three outcasts? Why outcasts?

The youth, a flash of an image – the boy bending over a heap of metal that Kawaii recognised as a skimmer, fiddling and mending. And a flash of triumph as he managed to power it, the hum starting again, even through they had found him and smashed it before he had got it to lift. He had been beaten for that, and not trusted. The other man knew stories and believed old tales of the moon, explained what the light in the sky was, tried to piece together records. He had come across them suddenly, from somewhere else. He looked different. And she knew what people thought, she was strange. They did not belong.

So what had happened? Did she know anything about the past, why the cities and machines had crumbled?

Fighting, anger. Something had gone wrong. The machines had gone wrong? The man would know. She didn’t.

Her name? Kawaii tried to frame the thought, as she had no real way of asking. In thoughts, people were automatically who they were. There was no need for names.

Incomprehension.

Kawaii resorted to sign language, pointing to her chest and saying “Kawaii.” The girl’s smile was shy, but she pointed to her chest and said, “Mere.”

Kawaii pointed to the where the young man was. The girl’s smile faded, but she said, “Willam.” Kawaii caught hints of an attraction and a sexual encounter in her portrayal of the young man. To the older man, she shrugged, then said, “Nou nom e Peter, but ich ne known em nom.” Kawaii smiled, understanding from her mind that they had called him Peter, but that Mere didn’t know his real name. She nodded, and then mimed hunger. Mere nodded.

“Doc, can you wake the other two?” Kawaii said. “I think I should introduce them to the rest of the crew.”