Friday, January 26, 2007

Style and Taste

If you asked my daughter, she'd assure you most vehemently that I possess neither. But I'm not concerned about fashion sense (she's right--I have none), I'm concerned about writing.

I've mentioned before that I don't think I'm a very good judge of my own work, and lately that seems to keep hitting me between the eyes. I think I vacillate between two very different styles: one whimsical and sparse, the other serious and verbose. I have the most fun with the whimsy, feel it's "truer" to my voice, yet I've noticed people tend to respond more positively to the serious stuff--the stuff that I think is bad, over the top and the purplest of prose even as I write it.

Could it be that my attempts at humor are like my attempts to wear blue jeans--shouldn't be done, especially with elastic waists? Are those bits I dismissed as painfully purple really the sweater I'm embarrassed to wear, yet always receive compliments on it when I do?

I honestly don't know. How do you know if your stuff is good or not? Do you think you're a good judge of your own writing?


  1. My inner judge is a liar. On a good day, I'm the best writer in the world. On a bad one, I'm the suckiest suck who ever sucked. My work isn't even worth the electricity to save it on the laptop.

    Thing is, looking back at the finished product, I can't tell when I had a good day or a bad one. The work's as good as it is.

    Knowing my inner judge is a liar, a damn dirty liar, makes it easier to get on with writing. I let 'beta readers' and such tell me when I suck. To them, I listen.

    PS Thanks for visiting my blog. It's nice to meet you. Nice places you've got here!

  2. You do know, after a while, whether what you have produced is copy or not.
    I find that if the copy emulates poetry (without being flowery),it's probably good.

    Find a published piece that is a lot like the piece you have just produced.
    Might just fill in the blanks for you.


  3. How do you know if your stuff is good or not? Do you think you're a good judge of your own writing?

    Honestly? Read your stuff after a year has passed, after you've forgotten it and it feels like someone else wrote it. If you enjoy it, then ...

    But up close? We never have time to do that until after it's published, LOL. So I just look for the stuff I don't like, and try to fix it. I keep trying to dig deeper and force myself to be better. I sure know I hate all my endings. *sigh*

  4. STEVE - That's a good way of looking at it. Never believe a liar. :) (PS: I liked your blogs)

    IVAN - Thanks for stopping by. You touched on one of the things that confuses me most. When I recognize that my writing looks like poetry, I worry that it's purple prose, but then I do see published works that are quite similar. That's why I'm not a good judge. :)

    SPY - I'm still not sure I trust my judgement even then--perhaps especially not then. It seems the pieces I enjoy the most are the ones others don't like and vice versa! I guess I should just go with the ones I hate then. :) I'm also trying to follow your lead to "dig deeper" -- it's tough.

  5. You must put some distance between your written work. File it away for a week or two. Forget about. Then come back to it and edit, edit, edit. Lastly, repeat the process.

  6. I will seriously shred mine if I stick too long with it. Thus, I find now in the early stages I'm not only working on skill but also confidence.

    And that, my friend, is a BIGGIE!

  7. JR - thanks for stopping by my blog. I find yours hauntingly beautiful sometimes--would like more info about that poetry reading. :)

    SUSAN - I can SO relate to that. Many a page has seen the shredder and many a painting the inside of the garbage can. I'm just no judge of it, and like you, the confidence factor is a killer. Even if I leave them alone for a while, I'm still not sure when I get back. I guess I'll just have to put it out there and let other people decide if they like it or not. Even that's no clear indicator: everyone has different taste.


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