A Psychological Stew

Scott William Carter   August 2, 2005  

About halfway through my second pass on the young adult fantasy, and so far, I’m feeling good about this draft. It definitely has a richer texture than the previous ones. The reality never quite matches up with the vision I have in my mind, but I find that the more I work at my craft, the closer I get to the vision. At least, sometimes. There are also times such as yesterday, when I took a break from the novel to work on a story for an upcoming horror anthology, when I lapsed into moments of despair at how big the gulf is between the kind of writer I want to be and the kind of write that I am — or, as I said to my wife, that my reach seems so much farther than my grasp. But then a couple things happened, as they often do, to pull me out of this mood. First, as I was transferring this story from my desktop computer to my laptop, I happened to use a disk I hadn’t used in years, and it turned out that on this desk were a couple of stories from four or five years ago. Reading them, I nearly gagged at how bad they were (so bad I quickly dropped them from inventory, and, apparently, also from my conscious mind). It made me feel better, knowing that the million or so words I wrote in the interval weren’t wasted, that my craft had definitely improved in that time.

Then, making me feel even better, I got my galleys for my upcoming story in Analog (“A Christmas in Amber”) in the mail. Looking over the story, which will be my third appearance there, I suddenly realized that I could, in a way, now be considered a regular contributor — and how strange this feeling was, making me remember when I was wet-behind-the-ears eighteen year old freshman in college having late night coffee with a bunch of other aspiring writers, dreaming of the day when my name would appear in what’s called the Big Three in the science fiction field (F&SF and Asimov’s being the other two). So while I would prefer that these nagging doubts and black moods vanish as I progress as a writer, I’m thinking that ain’t all that likely. But at least I’ve got more life preservers to keep me from drowning in my own psychological stew. That’s something.

In reading news, finished Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince a couple weeks ago. Say what you want about Rowling’s literary merit, this woman is a hell of a storyteller. You might toss off the first book as lightning in a bottle, but you don’t captivate millions of readers for six books unless you’re spinning a great yarn. And this is a great yarn. Can’t wait for the final book.

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