This is something I’ve thought about for a while. I’ve been writing fiction for the better part of thirteen years. I can recall the first few books I wrote (or attempted writing). It was a series called Fenix Griffon (teenage Luke was terrible with names). Its first iteration was a horrendous portal fantasy that ripped off Harry Potter far more times than it distinguished itself from the latter. The second attempt, though? Not so bad. Still very amateurish writing, but then again, that’s how all writers start out: as amateurs.
As the years passed my writing improved. In 2010 I started writing my Sewn From Seeds trilogy (which is, sadly, on hold). In late 2014 I began writing the third book in the trilogy, but during this time I began outlining a novel tentatively called Theailys and the Darkener (now The Forger). It was to be an epic fantasy, set in a completely different world. This was something I had never done before. Not to this extent, at least. Sewn From Seeds was decent enough in its world building, mostly because I was adding speculative elements onto a preexisting location that I was intimately familiar with, but The Forger, the world of Ariath… That was all completely new, especially the magic system and its creation. Nonetheless, I finished the first draft in six months, cumulatively, and it turned out pretty decent (I’m still doing some heavy revisions).
But finally, getting to my point, I’ve been writing epic fantasy for less than 2 years. I still have much to learn, but I’m getting better with each day, each new story I write, each book I read. I only started reading epic fantasy around the same time, the first novel being Brandon Sanderson’s Elantris. In the past few days, I’ve reflected on how easy it sometimes is for me to feel like my writing isn’t up to par, that I could be doing better. The truth is, I can always do better, I also strive to do better, but this does not mean my writing is bad. I’ve been told by fellow writers, by editors at magazines, and readers that I have a voice, that my ability to tell a story is constantly improving.
Roughly two years of writing and reading epic fantasy has shown me where I want my career to go. It has shown me the stories I want to tell, the kind I want to read, to dream about. It has reiterated the fact that writing is subjective, that a writer’s biggest critic is always going to be themselves. It is important that we take the occasional step back, especially when we’ve been writing in a genre for such a short amount of time, and reflect on how far we’ve come from when we started.