This is how we roll

Sunday, July 03, 2005

I wrote 3 pages (net) yesterday. Not an impressive number, but I'm ecstatic. It's the most I've written in one day in weeks. Furthermore, all my obsessive editing & tweaking seems to have paid off, I'm moving through the work, already written, at a faster pace, and noticed that the new stuff came a bit easier.

See, beginnings are the bugaboo for me. Some people have trouble with the 'sagging' middle part of their stories--where they seem to run out of enough plot/conflict/motivation to fill the next 100 pages to the last chapter. And some have problems with endings, they can never quite wrap them up in a satisfying way. But for me, starts are the problem; that's when I have to get anchored in the characters--I have to 'hear' them, and 'feel' what they're feeling--or the rest of the writing is akin to walking around in cement shoes.

So all that tweaking/editing(?), it's not primarily for grammatical purpose (after reading some of my excerpts, no surprise there, right) it's for 'flow'. The words, descriptions, emotions, pacing have to feel and sound right. They need to touch, stir a response.

If I can read the work through and not get snagged on word choice, or pulled out of the moment while I wonder if more clarification of motive is required, or more depth needed, or the pacing is off, then I can leave it alone. I know (for me) I've passed from writer, to storyteller, because I've gotten 'lost' in my own story. The grammar can be fixed, and I've got some eagle-eyed cps who'll make sure of that if I slip.

What brought on this navel gazing? (Apart from the fact that I feel I've hit "the (storytelling) zone" now.) I followed a link to filomancer's blog, and in an earlier post, she(?) writes about 'how' she writes. And some of the parts struck me as being pretty damn close to my own (painful) experiences:

"My friends are busy with their daily word counts, making me wish I could keep up, but I mostly don't--can't?--work that way. My writing process often feels more like oil painting than anything linear, and I don't know if that's ever been more true than now. I have to sketch in the outlines, then layer in different tints and hues of viewpoint, character motivations, physical and social setting, thematic and imagery threads, back story, and let's not forget the plot. Meanwhile I keep making new discoveries about the story, and I have to go back to layer in those."

I'm not claiming for a second that I'm some grand artiste when it comes to writing. (Nor 'inferring' the filomancer is making that claim, either) but I do get lost in the details. They do, and will, trip me up (even stop me cold) until I feel I've gotten them right. If something feels wrong, I'll pick at it, dig deeper and fill in the layers until it's what it should be.

"I have this notion that there are writers out there who can just sit down and write a story without constantly having to stop to untangle the thread. (Sewing machine metaphor: top thread is too loose, lint has collected around the bobbin, whammo! Needle and motor jams in a big knot of thread and fabric caught under the throat plate.) Me, some days it seems as if that's all I'm doing. But... ...you don't necessarily become good by trying to be good. That might be just setting yourself up for failure. You have to work with your own mental and emotional processes to figure out how to achieve what you want..."

Never knew I could be this windy, didja? Still waters, my friends. Still waters.... ;)

I have a chapter to finish this weekend, so I better get to it.

Later, gator.
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7 comments:

Steph T. said...

Love those quotes! They're going on my keeper, uh, sticky notes. *ggg*

It's true - you can't worry about someone else's process. Every once in a while I try the whole, write 10 pages every day thing. My muse isn't happy that way. I can usually get through the first 50 pages of a story easily, and then I get stuck. That's when I go back in and layer. I can't dive into the last 200 pages until I have the first 150 - 200 smoothed out. I'd love to be able to get through an entire draft without rereading, but so far, no go.

Sasha said...

Yay, Jaye!

Keep it up, and I hope I'll join you soon in the "zone"

Jill said...

I used to agonize over the speed of others. Now I put my fingers in my ears and sing "lalalalala", and I'm happy for my five pages or whatever I get.

Oh God. I wonder if that complacency means I'm getting old ...

Great, something new to agonize over.

Raine said...

Jaye, I've done some oil painting.

I have artist friends who can churn out a complete painting in one day.
Also know some who labor over one for nearly a year.

I think you have to satisfy yourself. I'm not a fast writer either, & even when the first draft's done, I have to go back to add things I'm not very good with.

It's your path. You have to walk it.

Mentally Challenged said...

"Never knew I could be this windy".
I used to be a windy writer also
until I got serious about practising precis writing. Precis practise has helped me to be more concise:

War And Peace:
"Stay out of Russia"

The Bible:
"Yeah God, Boo Devil"

Gone With The Wind:
"Join the Union Army"

Jordan Summers said...

I agonize over the speed of others. If I really want to depress myself, I think about how fast Sherrilyn Kenyon writes.

Jaye said...

Thanks for posting guys. Some times it feels like I'm the only one going at a snails pace. Even the people who have been having it rough lately, are still doing more than me. I keep reminding myself that everyone has to walk their own path, but when the reality is, once published you need to get stuff out there frequently/regularly, sometimes I wonder if I'm cut out for this gig. :-/

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