I’ve broken off from revision — still on Lesson 3 grinding through it at a snail’s pace, or that of a tortoise, i.e. slow — to write this post in the hopes it will help me come to terms with me and my process.
I’m like the hare; full of energy, wanting to race off and cross the finish line. Writing for NaNoWriMo was awesome because I didn’t have to stop and think. I just had to let those words flow out of my fingertips. Easy peasy. Work? Was that work? No way. It was wild, it was fun, it was a breeze. I was like a mad March hare leaping and dashing around in the spring sunshine.
Whatever else happened, I got 50,000 words onto the screen. That was a huge turning point for me because it proved I could write that many words. It had seemed an impossibly large task. Climbing K2 without oxygen would be simple compared to writing number of words 😀
I got some great ideas as I was tap-tapping out those words. That part of the process seemed like magic. Where did those ideas come from? It gave me a huge buzz!
The problem in hare-ing off without a thought in my head was those 50,000 words were garbled, jumbled and without structure, form or, at times, meaning. I’ve been working on that dratted manuscript for a long time, trying to craft it into something worth reading (and learning much about the craft of writing along the way).
To do the crafting requires time, patience, and hard work. Staying with a scene and working at it methodically until I’ve answered the following questions:
What is the point of this scene? How does it fit in with the plot? Just who is the protagonist? And what part do they play in this scene? Just who is the antagonist? And what part do they play? Crucially, what the antagonist does must have some bearing on the protagonist — and I’m not talking about them getting on like a house on fire!
I’ve just written out a scene, condensed the information — that information which, if removed, makes the scene meaningless — and tried to write down the interaction between Protag and Antag. It’s like trying to stand up on ice with smooth-soled shoes. I’m slipping about all over the place! 😀
I know I have a scene – by Holly Lisle’s definitition. I know who the Protag and Antag are (and I don’t always!), I know they are interacting. I know a lot about this scene on an intuitive level. It works. It’s good. It’s an important turning point in the story. But I’m **!#@><! if I can write down all those parts and produce an SFR which encapsulates the whole thing.
Which brings me back to the hare and tortoise. I’ve done my (very good) impression of a mad March hare and great fun it was. Now, I need to be the tortoise, going along at a much slower pace, giving myself time to sift through all the parts of the scene and produce an SFR which comes near (I’m not asking for perfection here :)) to the scene as it is written.
This sort of work takes time. My Muse gets bored with this. I get bored because we want to be off shooting through the Universe catching bright stars of ideas in our silver net.
That’s part of what writing is about for me. The other part is the slow stuff. It’s not as if I don’t like working out puzzles. I spent my career solving problems. Encapsulating a scene in an SFR is only another problem — and yet I’m not treating it as such.
This disinclination to stay with this part of the process bemuses me. I learn such a lot from it. Admittedly it doesn’t seem so exciting, and I don’t get as much from it — although I suspect I will when I’ve got through.
So another frustrating day. I’ve learned about my process. Two parts, the mad March hare and the slow, steady tortoise. I can do both. I prefer to be the hare. I need to learn to be the tortoise without feeling frustrated. How to do that remains a mystery at the moment.
Y’know, I think I can hear my Muse chuckling. What is that about? Don’t you just love writing? 😀
For those of you who want to join the ‘I’m a Tortoise and I Love it!’ club, here’s a logo
I found the clip art at http://www.arthursclipart.org/turtles/turtle/front.gif