Kill Yer Darlings

You’ve probably noticed the lack of regular posting for the last couple of weeks.  Without going into too much sordid detail, I thought I’d touch on that just a bit. 

I usually compose most of my blog writing at night, when Norm is working, then post it sometime the next day, taking only a few minutes to insert links or citations where needed.  And while I read every day, I’ve not read as much in the past few years as I really would like to. 

This all changed a few weeks ago when I found my muse. 

As a few of my blog pals may know, I’ve long wanted to write professionally.  Oftentimes I get started on a project, only to get bogged down in the details of a story to the point that the story itself stops.  These tend to get discarded or saved as “brainstorm” files on my laptop, barely to be regarded again by even my own eyes.  Even those 20-30 stories that I eventually got around to finishing have never seen the light of day except for a few close friends (who flatter me by telling me they like them). 

The advent of the soon-to-be-concluded writer’s strike left me with more time to consider the best use of my time alone while the husband is at work.  I tried live-blogging Idol but no one really cared too much, and frankly I can beat my head against a wall for only so long before it hurts.  And so I finally read Stephen King’s On Writing, which turned out to be the most informative handbook I’ve ever read for writing fiction. 

Understand, if you can, that I’ve long had the basics down for grammar and structure, all the mechanics of “proper writing technique.”  But it wasn’t until reading the King book that I realized how I was limiting myself in the simplest of ways, getting bogged down in the rewrite before I’d even finished the story I wanted to tell.  Trying to find clever phrasing in order to impress the reader with my high-falutin’ wide range o’knowledge.  Nickle-and-diming my fiction to death.  Killing my darlings before they’re even born.

So here’s what I’ve been doing: reading and writing.  Not only did I finish a few short stories, but I’m on the 50th page of what I think might be my first novella.  I’ve never gotten that far before, and I’m really excited about it. 

So if you’re wondering where I am, what I’m doing, now you know. 

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7 thoughts on “Kill Yer Darlings

  1. Congratulations! Novels, novellas and short stories are bitches, but worth it in the long run. Enjoy the muse while she/he/them/it/Xenu embraces you.

    And your sixth paragraph is indeed the bane of all writers. But I do love the phrase, “Killing my darlings before they’re even born.”

  2. Heh. Wish I could lay claim to that, but King repeats the phrase “kill yer darlings, kill yer darlings!” multiple times in On Writing–and I believe he was quoting it as a favorite phrase of Hemingway’s. The “before they’re ever born” part is mine, though. (Small consolation.)

  3. Crap! You mean both Hemingway and King have now written something I like? Here I was, trying to be a nice and supportive person and now you’ve wrecked my day and possibly my life!

  4. lol It’s not that big a deal, QJ. I despise Hemingway, myself, but you know the cliche about a dead clock . . .

    How you can not have found anything else by King that you found enjoyable I simply cannot fathom. It’s pulp, and some of it’s horrid (Gerald’s Game comes to mind), but try reading Rage (one of the Bachman Books) or even The Green Mile in its original serial form, and you may change your mind.

    Of course, if you don’t like horror, all bets are off. If you DO like horror, however, Carrion Comfort, a sick, sadistic, orgasmic effort by Dan Simmons is an absolute must.

    Know what I’m reading right now? King’s anthology “Everything’s Eventual,” “TheOnce&FutureKing,” Dan Simmons’ “The Terror,” among other things. Trying to mix it up, ya know. And I even made myself a quiet little writing space with a madly scrawled sign on the door that says, “Keep Out Or I Will Maim You.”

    Makes people think twice when they see that direct word “Maim.” Yep.

  5. King’s book was the most important book I’ve ever read, it lead me to finishing my first good novel, not that publishers noticed, but that’s another story. Congrats on this great road. It’s an odd long road I assure you.

    Yet I remember this feeling, getting past page 50, it’s a truly wonderful place to be.

  6. Thanks Keith. I actually had you in mind for a first look, since you have always been honest with my writing before (and I greatly appreciate it, believe me) but I’m letting the first drafts sit for a while before going over them again–following Stephen King’s advice to let them simmer and become a bit distant from me so that I can edit them with fresh eyes.

    You WILL be hearing from me. 🙂

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