Friday, November 5, 2010

Life is an Analogy: Vacuum Cleaners = Fiction Craft

Just a writerly thought for your reflection (go with me on this):

Today I bought a new vacuum cleaner for the first time in many, many years.  It took a bigger investment than I would have liked, but it is strong, efficient and a pleasure to use - especially when compared with my old vacuum cleaner which was none of those things.  However, my old vacuum cleaner did do the job.  It took longer, complained louder, and didn't look as pretty... but it got there.

Given the learning curve I've experienced in the last year or so, I liken this to learning the fiction craft.  I'm not at the top of my game yet - not by anyone's stretch of imagination - but I've come a long way.  It's taken hundreds (thousands?) of hours of coaching, research, reading and writing things that didn't work, then revising, revising, revising (with more coaching, more research.... etc, ad nauseum).

Now, the investment is starting to pay off. 

I've written nearly 20,000 words this week (Nanowrimo anyone?).  Those 20,000 words are tighter, stronger and more effective than any I've written before.  It isn't that they don't need work, but the work from this point will be significantly less than book one when I wrote it eighteen months ago.  The payoff will come sooner.  And I can enjoy them more because of it.

Taking the time and humility to learn how to write well is hard.  But it's worth the investment.

Try it, you'll see.

I wish I could go back eighteen months and do the learning first.  But all I can do is look forward and learn from my mistake.

What about you?  Have you invested in your writing career?  How?  What steps were the most valuable to you?


  1. You've written 20,000 words this month? Amazing! I move at a much, much slower pace and am currently revising a picture book and researching for a mid-grade.

  2. I would have liked, but it is strong, efficient more reviews and a pleasure to use - especially when compared with my old vacuum cleaner which was none of those things.

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