If It’s Good Enough for Mr. Livgren, then …

If It’s Good Enough for Mr. Livgren, then …

I’ve admired Kerry Livgren for a long time.

Yes, you know him. The composer, guitarist, lyricist of Kansas.

Yes – “Carry on Wayward Son” – “Dust in the Wind”

Okay, now you’re with me.

Livgren didn’t just disappear after the glory years of Kansas in the late seventies and early eighties. Far from it. He released many solo albums, founded the band A.D., got back together with his old mates from the pre-Kansas days and released three terrific albums under the name Proto Kaw.

The guy is brilliant. Yet, the thing that has stood out the most for me about his musical procedures is that he is never satisfied. He said in an interview once that if he has the opportunity to make a previously released song better, he wouldn’t hesitate to do that. And he has.

He has remastered albums. He has kept the vocals of songs and completed rerecorded the instruments to make an even better product.

His dedication to his craft is relentless, and it has inspired me (as a writer) to be like Kerry!

When I think back seven years ago when I was writing my first novel, I didn’t know what I was doing. Seven years later, I’m still learning – lots.

Don’t get me wrong, I like the old stories. A lot, actually. I’m proud of my first novel BEAUTY RISING, but can it be better? Yes. Can I apply things I know now and didn’t know then to make it better? Yes. Will I do it? I will try. (There is a thing called time, you know.)

So I am hoping to do something like Kerry does. I’m not going to change the stories. The heart of the story will remain, but I might rework the language. I make color passages in a more interesting way. I may delete adverbs which I seemed to like so well back then. I’m looking forward to doing a new re-edit on some of my old stories to help freshen them up with my new rounds of knowledge about writing.

If it’s good enough for Kerry, it’s good enough for me. What about you?

A Writer Stirring Up the Hornet’s Nest

Why couldn’t I just let those darn hornets sleep? I was almost finished, and then …

I’m sure this has happened to all writers. You are closing in on the end, already with one draft in the books and you’re anticipating finally closing up a project and moving on to something else.

But you, in the ever so subtle way you go about closing a book, had to leave your mind open. And you know what follows when that happens. One thought leads to the next, and before you know it you begin to question the ending or a plot point. Then a new idea slips into your mind and before you know it you are staring down the double barrel of decision.

Do I really want to re-open this plot and re-write everything I’ve already written. Just let the hornet’s sleep!

But that one annoying hornet starts flying around your drink, settling on the edge, trying to drink up a little sweetness. You swat it away, but another comes flying by, this time whipping around your ear. You hate that buzzing sound. It means anything but the finished line. It means re-writes and and pain and more time and …

You swat that hornet away from your ear, hoping it won’t come back.

But then your mind, in an onslaught of flying insect thoughts, armed with powerful stinging abilities, will not let you rest. They chase you out of your complacency, forcing you to go back to your manuscript.

Finally, you look once again at the words on the page, and you realize that the hornet’s were right. It’s not finished. There’s a better way. So the choice is simple, change it or be willing to be stung by endless stings by the writer’s best friend – an honest conscience. At that point, you know that if you really want to be the best writer that you can be – as you always say – that you must deconstruct and reconstruct again.

Once that is realized, everyone will be happier. Everyone meaning the writer and the reader.

So do I want to be known as a writer who finishes or a writer who finishes well?

All right. Now I know what I have to do. Take two.

I Lost 1000 Words

It wasn’t anyone’s fault. Not even my own. Through getting a new computer and working through some syncing issues, etc … I lost 1000 words of novel three which I wrote yesterday afternoon.

I’m not sure what I think or feel about this reality. I wasn’t particularly fond of what I had written, but I had a few good ideas and some interesting wording in some spots.

Luckily, the ideas are still with me. I just have to re-write.

It’s that same feeling when you starts a journey in your car and 20 minutes into the trip you realize you forgot something at home and have to turn around and do it all over again. Forty minutes – wasted.

Yesterday I wasted an hour and a half.

But was it really wasted? How much of that 1000 word framework will come through when I re-write. I had actually started going in a new direction with new characters I hadn’t introduced before. So the writing of yesterday has really become a brainstorming session.

That’s ¬†good, isn’t it?

Actually, I can totally visualize the entire scene in my eyes. I know what I want to happen. Now I just have to lay down the right prose.

So I shall choose to put a positive spin on it because a negative spin wouldn’t do any good.

Here we go again.