Monday, February 15, 2010

The Theory of Evolution

First things first, I got a full manuscript request on Camera Shy today - hooray! So, it's signed, sealed, delivered, and I should have an answer in 8 weeks or so. Cross your fingers!

Once that was taken care of, I decided to take a little walk down Memory Lane. (Read: I was procrastinating) So, I pulled up some of my older manuscripts and thumbed through them.


There was a time, back in my earliest "I wanna be a writer" days, when I wondered what the secret was. How did these writers simply know how to weave together wickedly cool stories with what appeared to be relative ease? They seemed to spring right from the forehead of Zeus, fully formed and possessed of the ability to write intriguing stories, lyrical prose, and wickedly cool characters. Writers, it seemed, were born, not made.

Oh, no, my loyal blog minions. It most certainly does not work that way. Apparently there is an evolution involved, and every writer crawls before he walks, slithers before he crawls, swims before he slithers, and struggles to divide on a cellular level before he swims. Writers are not created, we evolve. And we have the joy of recording that evolution in minute detail, rather than painting it on cave walls. (Though, some of my earliest writings are probably decidedly less poignant, engaging, and clear than some of the most obscure, enigmatic, faded cave paintings.) Our progression from single-celled nothing to full-fledged writer is documented in explicit detail, recorded for posterity. At any moment, we can stop on the evolutionary timeline and look over our shoulders to see how far we've come.

In hindsight, it's shocking to see what primitive monstrosities we've been along the way. Needless to say, watching one's own evolution can be either depressing or encouraging, depending upon how you look at it.

Whatever stage I'm currently at is the most advanced I've ever been, it's the best. It's teh shiznit. It rocks teh house. Or something. Then comes a day like today when a walk down Manuscript Memory Lane becomes a jaunt through the Museum of Natural History. Manuscripts that made me think "holy crap, this is pretty good" are the hunched, hairy, spear-wielding hunters and gatherers. Half-finished books before those are still up in the trees. Sins of the Father, the tome I once thought would be my magnum opus, is nothing more than a squirmy, wriggly creature emerging from the water to try out its newly sprouted legs, dragging with it the tendrils of algae that are my earliest attempts at erotica in short story form.

Where I stand now is my Golden Age. It's the furthest I've come, the best I've done, the closest to walking upright I've ever been. Every word I typed before today was leading to this point.

Tomorrow, I'll stand a bit straighter and be a bit further evolved than I was today. Today's Golden Age will be tomorrow's Iron Age. Today's Rennaissance will be tomorrow's Dark Age.

Looking back, everything from the past appears closer to the pool of green goo than it is to where I am now. This is an illusion. In 6 months, this point upon which I stand - upright, if somewhat wobbly - will be but inches away from the edge of the pool from which I emerged as something only slightly more advanced than amoeba.

On one hand, this can be depressing. I mean, going through something you thought was awesome, only to realize it's crap, is a little demoralizing. But then again, it's encouraging. How many strides must have been made between then and now to get this much further from the pool of green goo's shore? And how much further will I go in the coming months and years?

And all those writers I admired back in the day? The ones I was certain emerged from the forehead of Zeus? They're still evolving too.

So, while it made me cringe to see some of my older work in the light of day, it was encouraging to see how far I've managed to drag my knuckles. Here's hoping for a similar moment of "oh, God, this is so primitive" in a year.

Now. Back to work...


  1. This is why I delete everything which no longer serves me - manuscripts, people, clothes, furniture, household items...

    It's not that I don't like seeing how far I've come. I just don't like being reminded of how bad I was. Unfortunately, I can't forget THAT but I'd rather not have the evidence clogging up my home.

    The 'oldest' manuscript or writing I have now, goes back a year and a half. I'd been writing for well over a decade before that and everything from those days is gone.

    Some people think I'm mad for not keeping everything. Well, there will be enough opportunity for looking back when I'm published. Everything contracted will be on shelves or ereaders for me to look at as a reminder of where I was at any given point in my career.

    Anything PRE-career, however, is best forgotten as far as I'm concerned.

    Learn from the past; don't live in it.

  2. Total truth. I've noticed the exact same thing with my own work.

    We're all a work in progress--isn't that great? I love this job!

    Btw, you're making the rest of us look bad--keep up the good work. :D