Evolution

No, this isn't a debate about intelligent design, though a few regular readers would love that.  No, this more about evolving as a writer.

I started making a very serious endeavor to become a writer when I (ironically enough) returned from Afghanistan at the end of 2005.  Mrs. Axe and I discussed it on and off for some months and she was always the voice of encouragement.  (Still is, by the way.)  When I first began, my stories were awful.  I like to write fantasy – real sword-n-sorcery-type of stuff.  My plots were uneven, imagery fractured.  I had no sense of my own tone, or own style.  I just cranked out the stories and they were honestly pretty bad.

At the time, I didn't think of my productions as such.  I was just happy to be doing it.  I joined peer-review groups and became exposed to a wider circle.  I read books and magazines on writing.  I read other stories with a critical eye.  Even though I wrote for my own enjoyment, I wanted to be better.

And somewhere along the way, something clicked.  The message started to sink in.  I developed my own linguistic style, one that – based on some "guess the writer" contests in which I have participated amongst my peers – is somewhat distinctive.  As my confidence increased, I branched out into other parts of speculative fiction.  I wrote some stories with a science fiction and horror flair.  I wrote more modern, less medieval tales.  I wrote a book and started a non-fiction project.  My writing is different from what it was.  I evolved.

(Muse:  That sounds awful conceited.)

Maybe it is.  Maybe that's the point.

I believe one cannot stay stagnant.  You're always changing:  growing, shrinking, flowing with the rhythm of the world's heartbeat.  That goes double for being an author.  I am far and away a better writer than I was when I started making a serious effort to do this in 2006.  My vocabulary is better, my turn of phrase comes easier, and I can construct a more cogent plot.  Okay, sometimes I can.  Will I still be a better writer in six more years time?  I hope so – but who knows?  I guess we'll see.

And by the way, it's not just as a writer, but as a reader.  I've been reading a lot of horror lately, something I haven't read steadily in  a long time.  Maybe it's not evolution but maybe my tastes are riding a slow moving tide back and forth over the same familiar sand.

I saw recently that Lauren Conrad, actress and author to whom I took somewhat of an axe a while back, released another novel a few months back.  I diced her writing up quite a bit.  I looked at the new book and part of me wanted to do the same all over again.  But another part of me said, "You know what?  Good for her, I am glad she's succeeding."  Maybe her writing is dreck, maybe it isn't.  My opinion is just that, and worth what anyone paid for it.  As I have said so many damn times (and I should have it tattooed on my forehead) anything that gets people reading can't be all bad.

I'll even offer the same apology to the werewolf lady – so Ms. Porter if you are still reading, best of luck to you.  I did finish reading your book.  Not my thing, a little too derivative.  But I hope the writing gig works out for you.  I'll still take you up on your lunch offer, and even let you hit on me.  Just a little.

(By the way, for those of you worried that I will lose my acerbic attitude, don't.  I'll just try to be a little less direct about insulting people up front.  Or maybe I won't.  That's the fun thing about evolution:  you never know where it will take you.)

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