I took the days around Christmas off from story writing/reading and instead read bits and chunks of Samuel R. Delany's About Writing (Amazon) and LJ postings on process by folks like jaylake (here and here) and matociquala (here and here).
I started thinking about whatever concept of "process" I currently have and I realized that there's been some sort of change going on recently. I definitely attribute it to two events: Viable Paradise and my slow comprehension of my learnings and experience there, and Orycon and my interactions with professional writers.
One of my mental models for growing my ability at writing is the "unconscious inability" to "unconscious ability" progression, as described here and here.
Before VP, I was definitely mostly in the "unconscious inability" stage with occasional forays into "conscious inability". As a result, I felt that I was in a good spot with writing and ready to try to "jump the gap" into being a published writer.
But at VP, I realized I wasn't as far along as I thought. I realized there were things that worked in my writing, but learned about many things my writing lacked.
After VP, I resolved to get better. So I accelerated my writing output. Where I had done one story a month, I now decided to do two stories a month. And I decided to read more stories, and read critically. And critique more. And enter WOTF regularly. And start sending stories out in 2008.
Frankly, the new output speed was difficult and I produced work that I quickly realized was not very good. Bits and pieces of it were acceptable, but almost all of almost all of the stories done in the following 2.5 months needed a complete rewrite. The critical reading helped with understanding what worked in stories, but it was also depressing because I continually realized how far I needed to go. I still haven't quite found the critique time, and I'm not sure that any stories are ready to go out.
At Orycon, my conversations with jaylake and Mary Rosenblum, and the critique experience, and the panels, all helped shine some light on stories and process and what can work in stories and what a writer should strive for in stories. Orycon was a big help in further starting to come to grips with where I was in my writing, and what I still needed to work on (and even, possibly, how).
Recently (like in the last week or less), while I've been working on flash fiction stories (see previous post), I hear little voices in my head. These little voices say things like: "the end and the beginning are like a circle" (a VP lesson), "make sure something changes in every scene" (both VP and recent blog comments), "vary your sentence rhythms" (Delany book), "add more sensory details" (VP), "get deeper into character wants/needs" (VP lesson from Bear and talking to Mary).
It could be dangerous to listen to these "voices of authority", but I think they're helping. The flash fiction piece I wrote (previous post, again) was throwaway, but there was some decent stuff in it. I revised it, the revision was a virtual rewrite from scratch, and by the end I felt "not bad" about it (which was nice after avoiding it for three days).
So, maybe I'm changing. Maybe I'm at the beginning of forming a "process" that could work for me. I still want "brain work" on a story before starting, but I'm starting to feel comfortable with less "brain work". I'm more willing to take a germ of an idea, toss something down on paper, and see where it goes. I'm willing to pay attention to the voices that (I think) are trying to make the work deeper.
It's weird, and uncertain, and shaky. Maybe I'm starting to cross a gap and I've become aware of just how thin the air beneath my feet is. Maybe I'm simply heading towards a gigantic crash. I'll just have to see where it goes. And 2008 will be a big year for finding out where it goes. But more on that in another post. Enough mind-chatter for today. Time to watch a documentary on punk music.