clues at the scene

clues at the scene

Friday, December 13, 2013

The Cellar of Discarded Ideas

At left, what becomes of ideas when untended.[ Photo Keichwa]

Writing is a process of decision. Each word, structure, character, and speech matters. We know these things.

We walk around thinking about our scenes, our characters, their feelings or lack thereof. We come home and endure horrendous Christmas music blaring from our spouses when we most desire quiet.

 We try to hold those thoughts we had earlier in the day commuting, eating, walking. We try and then in the sorting bin of prose, we discard the intent or sometimes the very idea itself. Out, damned spot.

Where do these go? Where did they come from, anyway?

I don't know. John Boyd tried for the last years of his life to capture the magic fire in a bottle that is the associative nature of ideas. He tried to teach. It took, a little.

I try and keep my discarded ideas huddled in the cellar of my mind, shivering at neglect but still hopeful of release and rehabilitation into cognitive association. Sometimes I can do this. Sometimes they die of neglect.

King speaks of this a bit in his _On Writing_ and while I generally don't like that particular text, there are gems that stick.

It takes a while to try on ideas, mull them over, and decide which to use in prose. I think that makes me the "contemplative" writer. I have a friend who simply pours forth the volumes nearly formed in thousands of words a day. I manage a few hundred. Now, when writing prose I can do several thousand - yet these come after several drafts of rough outline where I'm telling myself the story.

This year, I've gotten better at telling myself the story.

This next year, I'll get better at telling the reader the story.

I have an odd sense of hesitation lately that I might be able to do just that: I might be able to tell my stories. It feels a little like giving up the blanket of ineptitude which has sheltered my prose for so long. I've felt it "wasn't good enough" and so shared so very little. I certainly haven't shared my best stuff.

Off to write. I've something to finish to submit to some critique partners. I need to get it out there.

Write something.

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