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Critical Hits

Write Again

by Dave Smith
Feb 03,2004

 

Write Again

Despite a number of roadblocks, ranging from Christmas shopping to moving to a general lack of desire to write, it looks as if my second novel, Critical Hits, might be finished by the end of January. Somehow, two months of sporadic writing haven't impeded the march toward completion, though I may be wrong, and it might take me another six months to finish the book. In either case, I'm not taking into account my current preoccupations of editing and rewriting.

I didn't rewrite much of my first novel, although I did excise forty or so pages for the sake of brevity. (I failed, of course; the finished product was still almost 500 pages, which few would consider short.) Critical Hits, on the other hand, will receive a lot of editing. As the book has progressed, I've spent as much time rethinking certain themes and premises as I have writing, and while many of these new ideas get thrown out, some stick around, demanding to be included in the final draft. Since I usually write linearly, I'm forcing myself to finish the book before I go back and thoroughly rework existing material. This can be maddening, especially when I have a scene or bit of dialogue that I want to add, or even worse, when I'm stuck. I keep on truckin', though, if only because I want to avoid adding something that'll throw off everything that comes after it. I'm too lazy to constantly go back and realign things before I've finished the initial draft.

Axis Mundi Sum, despite taking a year and a half to write, was not the object of much contemplation, and I'm sure it shows, as the whole novel feels impulsive. I hope my new one won't come across the same way. If it does, then chances are I botched something, or that my readers are missing the intricacies of character and style. (I'd guess the former, personally.) I try not to delude myself as to my abilities as a writer, but I do believe my writing, and approach thereto, is improving with time; ergo, I expect Critical Hits to be an improvement over Axis Mundi Sum in many ways. That said, the thought of editing, rewriting, and reading the same sentences, paragraphs, chapters is both daunting and a little horrifying. Now I remember why the first book didn't get extensive editorial treatment.

I've got to do it this time, though. Critical Hits is an important step for me, and I don't want to let the negative aspects of my otherwise principled laziness ruin it; I dare say that Critical Hits approaches the level of "art," at least to me, and I sure as hell don't want to create horrible art. It matters to my readers, too. I want those who pull this book off a bookstore shelf (assuming it gets published in the first place) to feel like they invested their time and money wisely. While I'd write even if I was the Omega Man, I'm past the point of saying that I don't care if anyone reads my work. I want readers, because I think I've written things that'll make 'em laugh and think. I want to get emails from strangers, either denouncing or praising my work. I want to eventually do a book signing and answer questions and have beers with my "fans." When you boil the writing process down to its essentials, you're trying to create things that will change the world, if only one mind at a time. If it takes half a year and a dozen cases of Lone Star beer for me to do so, so be it.

There you have it, folks: a public announcement of my intention to write, and then edit, the hell out of Critical Hits, because I am not interested in foisting the literary equivalent of a 1979 D&D module upon the world. Of course, I may not live up to the standards I've set, so don't expect Dostoyevsky or William Gibson from me. Hell, let's play it safe and only say that Critical Hits will contain better writing than Axis Mundi Sum did (but far less violence and weirdness).

As always, take it easy, and drop me a line if you feel like it.

Dave Smith
dave at axismundisum dot com

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