You’re only as good as…

“You’re only as good as your last book written.”

That is the phrase I’ve heard many author friends say. It seems to be a mantra for authors that write for a living. In my limited, but ever-expanding view of the writing world, I took it to mean, you have to keep writing, keep putting your stories out there for people to read. It made sense to me.
The other day, I believe the real meaning of that phrase was shown to me. In the non-writing world it would translate to: “Practice makes perfect.” I’m not talking about spelling, grammar or even sentence structure, there are programs that can help you with those. I’m talking about getting your thoughts to flow onto the page well enough that others understand what you mean. An author friend of mine once said: “It’s not what you intended your story to be about. The reader only has the written words to judge your story by.”

My revelation came to me as a friend was reading a series of short stories I’m writing for an anthology project. She said, “I can tell which one was the last one you wrote, because it’s better than the others.” When asked what she meant, she explained. It wasn’t my sentence structure or my dialog, I’ve always been decent with those. It was the depth of the story I conveyed with my words. She really couldn’t explain it better, but the meaning hit me. The more I write the better the connection between my mind and the keyboard. The better that connection becomes the better (hopefully) my writing will become.

So I’m not just writing to publish stories, I’m writing to improve the stories that I publish. I can live with that.

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