samuel x. brase likes to write

The Post-Mortem’s Post-Mortem

Posted in Uncategorized by Sam X. on 9 November 2009

I’ve wanted to write a post-mortem for finishing the rough draft of my novel–I have, in fact, started it a couple of times–but it has not proven useful, I think because the whole project only had one lingering after effect: The knowledge that I can in fact write a whole novel.

I learned that writing is my raison d’etre; when I got into it, writing was all I wanted. As I wrote in one of my failed post-mortems: “From June to September, I was alive. […] I would write until I was shaking with hunger or bleary-eyed from fatigue, I read more, my life felt calmer and more focused than it ever has. Never before have I been so consumed to finish something.”

So that has set in stone my graduate studies. I’m working to apply to MFA programs, because I need it, I need that time and that structure to write more. This novel was amazing, but it was a fluke. I will never have the time to write something like it again, more than likely. Getting an MFA will allow this kind of time, and it will guide my reading, and so on.

I’m also determined to read more. A common piece of advice for writers is to read; I read a fair amount in college, but it was exclusively required reading. This introduced me to my true reading love, continental lit, which I need to get back into. I also need to read more science fiction, considering that will probably be my bread and butter in the future. I have read an embarrassingly small amount of science fiction, limited to a Philip K Dick, a whole lot of Star Trek novels, and that’s about all I can remember. I read a fair amount of fantasy, too, as a youth (Tolkein, Jordan, Goodkind, Dragonlance).

This is ridiculous, and I fear coming off as a poseur when I say I write sci-fi. I need to fix this immediately. Heinlein, Asimov, Herbert, more Dick, Bradbury. I’ve relied too long on a childhood of Star Trek episodes and books.

In this vein, I read half of Stephen King’s On Writing this past Friday to gain some insights for when I begin editing my novel tomorrow. He backed up some knowledge I’m already working with–eliminate all but the most necessary adverbs–and reiterated the “read, read, read” mantra. He made some claims I’ve scoffed at before–kill your darlings, second draft equals first draft minus ten percent–and I suppose I need to take this more seriously. Dress down dialog attribution seems like reasonable, professional advice. Make sure backstory is revealed deftly. Character motivation has to be believable. Coherence, recurring elements, theme, description.

I have a feeling I’m going to learn more from the editing process than from the writing process.

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