Revision is all about keeping in mind the big picture and the many, many details that go into creating that big picture. Because a novel is kinda like a forest, which is nothing without its trees.
For me, when I ‘discover’ a story,
there is a feeling of buoyancy and clarity,
perhaps similar to early morning out on a prairie highway,
when darkness lifts and reveals
the outline of farmhouses and copses of trees in the distance.
~ David Bergen
I’ve started working again on a project that I put on hold in 2012 because I didn’t feel equipped to do it justice. I’m still not insanely confident about my abilities (after all, I am a writer), but I’m pushing ahead.
Last night my Writing Roosters critique group got together, and one of the members spoke of her current process as she drafts another book in a series. She said that for her, outlining and research could turn into a form of procrastination, and that it was important to just get writing and trust that that other stuff will sort itself out along the way. I realize that isn’t a new concept, but it was one of those right-comments-at-the-right time things, and it went ping in my brain.
That’s exactly where I’ve been with this project; reacquainting myself with the characters and plot, doing more and more research. Thinking I had to get most every detail nailed down. Obviously, that’s false. Because as it says in STOP THAT BALL! : Could this go on all day and night? It could, you know, and it just might.
So today I stepped away from the outlining and research rabbit holes, and started writing. I didn’t get a whole lot of words down, but I accomplished more than page numbers.
Take that, Steven Wright!
I don’t think the goal is, ‘How big a star did you ever become?’
I think the goal is, ‘Were you able to express yourself?’
And if you’re able to say yes, in any field, you’ve won.
If you paint, write, do mosaics, knit –
if it’s solving that part of your brain saying,
‘I need to do this,’ you’ve won.
~ Albert Brooks
Guess what? Today was a win!
To be clear: I didn’t get an Emmy. I just like the look.
Last night’s concert with Shovels & Rope and Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats filled me with joy and admiration. I’m not a musician nor have I ever played one on TV, but I felt a kinship with the people on the Red Rocks Amphitheatre stage.
Why? Because as I watched and listened to all those talented musicians, I understood on a gut level the work they’ve done. They’re creative people who have put in years and years to get where they’re at, and they’ve enjoyed glimpses of triumph and then been dragged down low. They’ve been discouraged yet kept going and when something wasn’t working, they tried something else. Every one of them took chances and eventually triumphed.
I want to be like those musicians when I grow up.
For a long time I mostly resisted watching those “Inside the Episode” segments that seem to be all the rage in cable shows. They come on after the episode to supposedly give you a behind-the-scenes glimpse into that creative world. But one “insider” bit I’d watched had the show’s creator saying stuff about the characters that was so obvious, it felt like talking for the sake of talking. (I’m looking at you, Lena Dunham.)
Zippy and I have recently started watching a show we really like, and thought we’d give the “insider” thing another try. We watched a few of those segments and enjoyed getting the creators’ take on what they were trying to accomplish. However, the last one I watched was especially valuable for me as a writer.
The creators/writers talked about an interaction between two of the characters and said the one character acted selfishly and purposely put down the other character. That wasn’t my take. I’d interpreted the first character as being a bit clueless, but also truly coming from a good place. I’d still liked and rooted for her until I got the insider treatment which has now warped my sense of that character.
My two takeaways:
1) Stop watching “Inside the Episode” segments
2) I can’t control how readers will react to what I’ve written.