Remember when you were young, and everything was new? When life seemed full of possibilities, and you wanted to experience everything life had to offer? Everyday was Christmas, and life was Santa. Well, when it came to writing it was, anyway.
During those heady days of my writing youth, adverbs were things to be liberally sprinkled. Adjectives were faithful friends, so no one could misunderstand the minutiae of the emotion I was trying so hard to convey. Metaphors were delicious, rich puddings to share with the world, and similes were like the chocolate sauce atop them. Alliteration, always an appreciated addition, was added to… yeah, okay, I’ll stop now. Promise.
After finding out Dark Moon have so kindly decided to publish my short story ‘When the Moon Hangs Fat’, I decided to dust off another old short story I wrote a few years ago, to see if I could possibly polish that one up and send it out. I knew I liked the premise (it has all my favourite things in it: caves; alternate dimensions; ancient, forbidden knowledge; mad stuff), but upon reading it, all I can do is cringe.
Why? It’s simple. Overwriting.
Once upon a time, I was an advocate of the overwriter. Still am, in a way – I’m not a fan of those austere pieces where any kind of emotion has been leached out by the writer’s strict adherence to the ‘no adjective/adverb/metaphor/simile rule (I’m sure you know the type. They tend to write sentences of no more than 6 words, and hang around looking superior, trying to make other people do the same thing). I like a good bit of flaky description. But bloody hell, I’d forgotten just how much flaky description I used to enjoy.
But it’s not that I’m embarrassed about. I mean, I used to be a goth (and a chubby one at that – not so much pale and interesting as pink and giggly), and you’ve got to have a pretty high tolerance for silliness if you’re going to do that right (still do – whilst I fear I am too old for the hardcore stuff, the love is still there). No, what embarrassed me is that I not only wrote this baroque pile of nonsense, but I also posted it up for critique. And then argued with people who told me it was a baroque pile of nonsense.
So here’s the lesson, kiddiwinks – you might think it’s cool now, but a few years down the line, you’re going to realise that the liberal use of adjectives (and excessive use of parma violet lipstick) is not quite as edgy or as cool as once you thought, and that those people who critted you so kindly were actually right… so don’t flounce about and make a complete and utter tit of yourself. It’ll save you much cringing in the long run!
Off to continue re-writing – it’s painful, but like a little bit of self-flagellation, it’s good for the soul (or so I hope!).