Tim is a fellow Damnation Books author and all-round awesome guy! I loved his first Demon Squad book, Armaggedon Bound, and I think you should all love it too (and the sequel, Resurrection, which I can't wait to get stuck into). Tim's kindly agreed to blog for me today, so without further ado...
Evolution of a Dream
When I first seriously thought about writing, it was an ego thing that pushed me across the line. While I’d always liked to write—song lyrics, poetry, bits and pieces of fluff—I’d never put much effort into it. But while at work one day, a buddy of mine showed me a novel he’d written and it struck a chord with me. It was a challenge of sorts: if he could do it, so could I. So, I sat down and started collecting the ideas I had in my head and got to work.
Turns out, the first book sucked; as did the one after that, and the next one, and even the two after that. Each novel had good things about them, and I learned that I could craft an imaginative story even if I couldn’t’ write worth a damn. That was a start, but the worst part was, I didn’t realize how bad they were at the time. I proudly peddled them off to friends and acquaintances—for whom I’m still very sorry—and was fortunate enough to receive honest and critical advice as to what I was doing wrong.
It was a shock at first. In my ignorance, I hadn’t realized how low my ceiling was, and I was bumping into it blindly, thinking my work was better than it was. It really opened my eyes to hear the problems the books had, and was a definite kick in the ass to learn how I’d overlooked many of the most basic concepts of writing. Luckily, I’m thick-skinned as well as thick-skulled. I took it as another challenge.
I dove into sites like Absolute Write and SFFWorld, and found tons of people with great questions and advice. I studied the forums and the light started to come on. During that time, I happened upon a writing group that pushed me at every opportunity, forcing me to think about why I wrote what I did, what purpose did it serve in the grand scheme of the story? Between the forums and the group, I really began to develop a critical eye for spotting flaws in other’s work, which ultimately translated to my own. The ceiling had been lifted and I vowed to never let it be built again.
Once I could see my flaws, a whole new world opened up. I was no longer bound by my self-imposed limitations, and could put on paper the words as I imagined them in my head. That was truly the start of me as a writer.
Even now, though five times published, I still see myself as a neophyte. There is so much to learn, and so much to explore, that I can’t even imagine conquering it. I aim to get better with every book I write, aim to challenge my idols and step from within their shadows, one day. That is the dream I work toward.
The moral of this longwinded rant is targeted at those of you who hope to pursue a career in writing. Never settle. Treat every criticism to an honest eye, searching for the lessons buried in them, no matter how harsh or admiring. We can always get better, and we should always strive to. Don’t ever be satisfied with your writing. Challenge yourself, search out your weaknesses and chip away at them, write outside your comfort zone.
While there may be a lot of writers in the world content to be average, if you expect to make a name for yourself—barring incidents of complete luck—you have to have the skill to back up your vision. As deep as the field is, good just doesn’t cut it. Learn and practice your craft at every opportunity, so when you’re lying there in your bed at night, you can look up and see the stars, not the ceiling.
You can find Tim at http://www.tmarquitz.com/home.html, along with details of his books and blog. Really worth checking out!