After one of the longest posts I’ve ever written–yeah, I’ve had a couple inch up into the two thousand word range before–Saturday was a sort of get back to basics and get some writing done kind of day. Mostly because I’d taken Friday off and I needed to get the mojo restarted. Those are always a good think, I find, ’cause you need that recharge from time-to-time.
And look where it got me? Two thousand plus word blog post, and sixteen hundred words of novel writing during the evening. I’d say that’s a pretty good day of word cranking.
In my story all my Week One classes are out of the way. Just a little something for the last Friday evening awaits my kids, and then some Saturday inquiries–and that’s Act One. Seven remaining scenes to write, and I can bring this part of the story to Wrap City. I even spent part of last night moving a few scenes around in Scrivener so my Book One, Act One, Two, Three format would work. ‘Tis not a big thing, and after five minutes I had things formatted oh, so right.
The scene I worked last night sort of speaks to me as a writer, and it’s something I have to remind myself of every so often. But my Professor Ellison gets the truth out there in short order, and in a way you wouldn’t expect instructors to speak to eleven year olds.
The setup is he gets Kerry to play him part of a song that, in my little fantasy world, was recorded live on the very interment Kerry is going to play–sort of like being shown the guitar Jimmy Page used to record Stairway to Heaven and then being asked to play Stairway to Heaven with said ax. It would be, for some people, a slightly heady experience.
And it leads into a discussion . . .
(Excerpt from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)
Her smile grew wider as the professor joined in on the piano and Kerry stepped back just a little, pleased with what he was creating on the keyboard. After another fifteen, twenty seconds he waved his arm and stopped playing, then half-threw his hands into to air. “Oh, man, yes.” He half-skipped to where Annie stood. “I can’t believe that. I’ve heard recordings of that song played live on that keyboard, and I just did the same.” He threw his arms around Annie and gave her an excited hug, then turned back towards the approaching Professor Ellison. “What did you think?”
“You were a bit slow to start, and off a little on tempo here and there, but given how nervous you were likely feeling . . .” He slowly applauded. “Bravo, Kerry. Bravo.”
“Thank you, Professor.” He bowed his head and shook it while continuing to smile. “That was unreal.”
“I can imagine.” Ellison flipped off the Quadra. “You should consider playing at our Ostara Pageant next year.”
Annie felt Kerry stiffen slightly. “What’s that?”
“It’s the celebration we hold for the Vernal Equinox every year. Your coven is responsible for getting it organized.” Ellison moved back a couple of steps, so as not to make Kerry feel pressured. “The Saturday night after the equinox we hold a talent celebration in Orchestra Hall, and students get up and do creative things.”
“Yeah. We usually get a couple of dozen kids every years. Some dance, some read poetry, some play instruments—one year we had a student do some spoken word free verse.” Ellison glanced down at the keyboard that Kerry had played. “We don’t get too many people who actually play their own songs.”
Kerry didn’t look at Professor Ellison as he mumbled a reply. “I don’t . . . I’m not sure I’d be any good.”
“I can understand that.” Ellison now moved a little closer, relaxing to keep his body language neutral. “Are you worried you’re gonna suck?”
Annie almost laughed; Kerry looked up a bit surprised by the question. “A little.”
“That’s okay, you know—” The professor leaned against the machine closest to Kerry, but he kept the boy the center of his attention. “As a creative person you have permission to suck—particularly if it’s your first time trying something. Writing, painting, drawing, playing: the first time you try any of these things you’re probably going to suck—and that’s okay.”
“I’d rather not suck in front of a bunch of people.”
“No one does, but even the best do now and then. And between now and and the weekend after the 21st of March, you’ve got about five months to practice and get better.” He decided to try another approach. “You know who never sucks?”
Kerry almost said “Professionals,” then caught himself because he knew of numerous examples where they had. “No. Who?”
“The people who never take a shot. The ones who are sitting in the audience going on about how people suck, how you suck, all the while doing nothing but running off their mouths.” He let himself relax, so as to put Kerry at ease. “I can get you a good tutor. I know just the perfect one for you, too.” He stepped away from the synthesizer and stood before the boy. “What do you think? Wanna be one of the few A Levels who gets up and shows everyone what you got?”
Kerry felt conflicted. In a way he wanted to say yes and have the chance to “take his shot”. But he’d never performed for anyone before, much less in something called “Orchestra Hall,” which meant that all the students in the school would be there. And the instructors. And the staff. And maybe other people . . .
He felt his right arm squeezed. Annie was holding him, her arms wrapped around his, the look on her face one of adornment. “I don’t know about the rest of the students, but I’d love to hear you play.” She tilted her head to one side. “And if you have five months to practice, I believe it’s impossible for you to suck.”
Ellison held his hands up and out in mock surprise. “See, you already got a fan. And you should listen to your fans.” This time he held his hand out towards Kerry. “You wanna try? Yes?”
Sucking. We who try to be creative suck every so often. Sometimes we suck all the time, and we realized it and we figured out that our creativity lay elsewhere. Well, some of us do, but that’s another story . . .
I’ve written steady, in one form or another, for almost three years now. I’ve a few works out among the public, and I’ve more waiting to spring upon these folk. I still make mistakes when I write–my fingers simply can’t or won’t always do what my mind tells them to do. Or I misspell stuff and never catch it. Or I write a clumsy paragraph that, first time through, looked fantastic, but on review pretty much blew hard because it made no sense. Which is why we rewrite, because unless we are all literary Mozart’s, our first drafts aren’t the shit, but more like crap that needs a serious massaging.
The more I write, the better I become. I do feel that to be true. I also feel that my style has changed as well, and if I go back and look at work I wrote years ago, it doesn’t read the same as my work these days. If you stick with any author long enough you’ll see their style evolve as they charge ahead from novel to novel. Sometimes it comes from taking chances, sometimes it comes from understanding what works for them and what doesn’t.
Remember, though: there will always exist the possibility you’re going to suck with whatever you’re producing. Which is okay.
Go on, take that shot. It doesn’t hurt.