The title of this entry is referring to the Kafka novel. I've observed that writing is a dynamic process that changes as we improve our skills, and changes us in the journey. I'll explain.
When I first started writing, it was around my senior year of high school. I began writing a generic fantasy novel in an old notebook in my spare time. Eventually, with college approaching and other worries, I put the novel away and decided I would work on it again later. (I probably knew I didn't intend to, but I did anyway. At the time I didn't think I wanted to be a writer for a living. I thought I wanted to be a graphic designer...but we'll save my reasons for changing jobs for another entry.)
When I went to college, I became involved in gaming and wrote a very long character history, and added to that history chapter by chapter. I showed it to my friends who were very encouraging, telling me that they really enjoyed it and that they wanted to see more. So every time I wrote on the history I showed it to them in weekly installments. They told me that I should be a writer.
I also, during this time, took a creative writing class and wrote my first short horror story, "Jack and Jill." It was about a woman being haunted by the ghost of her suicidal boyfriend. My writing teacher told me that it was the best short horror story he had seen in his class in years and I should publish it. He pointed me in the direction for finding a magazine to submit it to.
Well, to make a long story short, I found both the notebook and the character history recently when I was going through some old papers. I read them and couldn't believe it. THEY WERE TERRIBLE! The grammar was like that of a third grader, and it was kind of me to think the plots were simply generic. Also, the characters were all two dimensional. I don't think one of them changed. I even found my old copy of "Jack and Jill" and, while it wasn't as bad as the fantasy novel or the character history, in comparison to the short stories I write now the style definitely needed improvement.
It was then that I realized in just a few years my writing had changed so much that looking back on it I could barely recognize my own work. It also made me realize that the more I write, the better I'll be. I'll probably be looking back on my first novels in ten years and thinking the same thing.
Still, I'm not trying to say that those people who liked my work had bad taste, or that they were lying to me to make me feel good. It just made me realize I could do so much better for my friends and for everyone that reads my work. It made me wish I could let them read what I've been working on right now. The work I started then is so sub par compared to the work I have now, it's amazing. While the realization was kind of sad, it also made me happy at the same time--it means I made it. When you can subjectively look at your work and see how dramatically your style has changed and improved, it means you're developing your own style and morphing into a real writer.
I've noticed that I feel at home cloistered in my writing room and staring at the computer for hours on end. How much writing I've done for the day greatly increases or decreases my mood, because writing is not only my job, but my pleasure. Ironically though, since I'm allowed to stay home and write, it means I'm also unemployed. Even when my novels get published on any official form, there's no place to circle the job "writer." So, in some ways, I'm like Gregor, cloistered inside of my room and unable to work. But, I like to think my metamorphosis is more like that of a butterfly, and less offensive to my family. I just need a chance to spread my wings.
This blog entry is for those of you who want to write. The moral is, don't give up when you get rejected, but also remember that the stories you write starting out, are the stories you'll probably hate later. Don't be discouraged by that, but think of it as a journey, your own personal metamorphosis that you'll get to watch as you improve.
In the future, I'll be adding more blog entries to help out beginning writers. Even though I still technically am one, I have enough experience to at least help. I remember that I had a very hard time getting started and needed as much guidance as possible. For those of you who are just starting to write, I recommend these books.
The Writer's Market - It's a yearly compilation of publishers, magazines, trade journals, literary agents, and also provides some advice for writing query letters and other important tips for beginners.
Stephen King A Memoir of the Craft On Writing - This is a very straightforward book that gives you interesting insight into the life of one of the greatest horror novelists (in my opinion), as well as everything from where he gets his inspiration from what to do to get your own career started.
William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White's The Elements of Style - This short book gives you not only good tips about common grammatical mistakes, but also tells you basic principles of composition and ways to start forming your own style.
I'm sure there are many more. And, anyone who reads this, feel free to add to the list. But, these three will at least get you started on the right path. I hope this list helps a little, and remember, READ! READ! READ! Reading will improve your writing.
Thanks for reading. I'll have more for you in the future, including samples of my work. (Maybe even samples of my early work, if I'm brave enough...)