The reasons for this blog: 1. To provide basic author information for students, teachers, librarians, etc. (Please see sidebar) 2. I think out loud a lot as I work through writing projects, and I'm trying to dump most of those thoughts here rather than on my friends.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Okay, so this morning I tried to think out what to do today. Logically I ought to continue with what I started Tuesday--just keep going on that scene--but I'm feeling a little tender about approach right now. That w-f-h sample I just did was like torture, because I had to write in order from the beginning, starting from a given point and working through, using the parameters I was given. If I was working on it on my own, I would jump around and write things that were fun to write, developing characters and figuring out what I wanted to say. The beginning would just be a placeholder while I skittered around the ms figuring out what the story was about for me, and what excited me about it. Then I'd go back with perhaps a little more understanding about how the beginning needed to be. I don't always work this way, but I often do. Since I couldn't do this, it was like writing on a leash. It took me nearly a month to come up with five pages, double spaced. I couldn't pull plot and emotion together at the same time; I'd work on one, then go back and see that the other one was missing completely. Then I'd fix that, only to find that now the other one was gone.

It reminded me very much of how I felt while working on this swordfighting WIP when I was trying to force myself through it. And look what I ended up with: a dead ms. So I feel very tender, like I do with my left knee that I popped some cartilage (or maybe it was a tendon) in once; now I am very hesitant when it comes to doing certain things with that knee. All the other people in exercise class do exactly what the instructor says, but if it's got anything to do with my left knee, I move slowly or not at all, because I sure as HELL don't want that thing to pop again. I feel the same way about this ms. I sure as HELL don't want to get back to that dead ms feeling.

So this morning I looked at the very reasonable possibility of just keeping on with what I started on Tuesday, and I don't feel inspired or eager. Six months or a year ago I would have told myself to just do it anyway. Today I'm thinking, "Popped knee, popped knee! Let's go a different direction!" So I thought through the beginning again, and after son #2 got out of the car, I pulled over and made some notes so I wouldn't forget. It's a good thing, because I think these are probably the exact same notes I've made before and forgotten. They look very familiar to me. It's a list of scenes, only this time--this morning, anyway--I saw how they connected emotionally, not plotwise. Emotionally they drive the story and build it up. They're the same scenes that made sense for the story when I was listing plot, but today I see the emotional point of each one. I know I will probably forget later, but maybe not. Maybe I'll be lucky.

So anyway, I'm thinking that what I need to do is jump around and write whatever about these scenes appeals to me. What draws me, what makes me want to write them? It can be something big or small. It's okay to have sprinkles of paragraphs or lines lying in bits and chunks all over the place, if that's what I want to do.

Maybe a way for someone like me--a disorganized, character-driven, plot-disabled writer--to approach a plot-driven ms is give up the idea of making sense, of having everything follow naturally, of making choices about transitions, of figuring out how to tell backstory. Maybe the thing to do is know the overall skeleton--which I do--and only work on characters or scenes that I'd work on if there was no plot. Maybe I should not try to hook anything together or have it make sense anywhere but in my head until my gut drives me to do it. Because one thing that I know keeps hanging me up is backstory. I keep thinking, "Oh, here's where I need to explain or the reader won't understand." Then I futz around with that for a million years and by the end of the day I have a bunch of words I don't have much feeling about.

So--for today, anyway--the plan is not to think, and not to get sucked into doing anything logically. Today, the plan is to just write freely, by feel.

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