clues at the scene

clues at the scene

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving - Early Christmas Present

Thanks for all the help this year.

There are so many out there who have contributed to getting me on the straight and narrow. I owe you.

So, in reward - here is the clue for the rest of you.

Here is the key to writing  :=> sit in the chair.

Write the sentence. Admire it. Don't get up. Don't get the coffee. Don't Google yourself to see if you are famous yet. Sit your ass in the chair and write the next sentence.

Repeat this act until you are almost empty. Almost. You're not exhausted but it is taking two or three minutes to think of the next stuff to put down. You fumble once or twice towards dead-ends and actively re-write that section.

Stop. You're done for now. Walk around - get the coffee. Re-read what you wrote and let it sink in. Yep - some of it is horrendous. You'll fix it in a clean-up session (not actual writing session) later. Smile. It isn't anywhere nearly as bad as you thought.

You need the steady stream of creation without interruption or distraction to make all those unmapped and unknown turns, twists and interconnects work.

You gave her red hair. That supplied the ready anger later you didn't know she had when he showed up six minutes late oozing from a nick and a sloppy shave. You didn't plan it but it happened. If you stopped the session and found a cookie or turned on that beast in the living room to check the score, you would have lost the focus you didn't know you had. You'd loose the current memory you've loaded with all the spur of the moment details that allows that most elusive of agencies - creativity - to flourish.

This isn't a research paper. You're finding out as you go along what you might actually say. Stop, and you'll never know.

Sit in the chair and write when you are going to write. We know all about the "activities other than writing" that we do. Print, edit, organize, pet the dog, think about that conversation we had last week, wonder if you should add sex to the story now, wonder if you should have sex now, wonder if the dog wonders about sex since he's fixed ...

The navy has the saying : When in command, command. I say when writing, write. It is disconcerting to not know "what to do next." Don't get up and have a cookie to find out because the only one who can tell us what happens next is

Sit. Write. or don't.

Don't confuse not writing with writing.

Don't think uncertainty is uncomfortable. It is what you decided to endue when you said "I am a writer." It is the crisis you now live. Life is pain. Death is comfort. Get on with it.

I have been a hobby writer for years now. When I was younger and unhappy, I pounded out text with some regularity. My life was sufficiently unhappy that only writing and the focus on the page - my page - gave me pleasure.

As I got fat and happy this sort of obsessive creation passed to the state of annoying itch. I would write partial stories, scenes, outline large works, and mess about. I felt like a writer but I didn't produce. What I did produce, I would only partly revise. I had a bulk of "mostly" finished stories.

In reality, I had a pile of hairballs on the floor of no more value or use than those the cat contributed.

Luckily, I can't stand when things go well and smoothly. Gives me a horrible rash. I'm the crisis guy you call when the shit hits the fan. It's a good living and it is what suits my life.

However, the last year was just good. Even. Calm. I was going crazy. I started writing more and more. Then the epiphany : writing is horrible. It is the edge of total failure every time we take up the pen. A wrong decision and we have garbage we may never resolve in re-write. Perfect. Perfect for me. Writing is a crisis every single second. It's what I need.

I'll steal from Steve Almond : the only part I enjoy about writing is having written.

I write the stories for me. I write the characters for me. I want to read this story and so I write it. I am vain enough to want to leave a little of this self-centered effort behind. I want to be more than a hobby writer for my own sense of accomplishment. Hopefully that fades.

Thanks to so many people this year, I have come to the straight and narrow. I'm an avocational writer. I am striving. I'm not going to become a vocational writer anytime soon but that doesn't mean I cannot improve.

I will also sit in the chair and write thanks to the encouragement of so many friends who have shown me how.

My thanks.

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