clues at the scene

clues at the scene

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Never Still Water

At left, the St. Francis dam near Los Angeles in 1928.

This dam broke that year, killed 600 people, and ended William Mulholland's career. He'd inspected the dam less than a day before it completely let go.

Water will find its way. There is no such thing as still water when time is considered.

I'm searching for conflict. I've a pile of stories which could benefit from secondary arcs of conflict within the confines of their narrow banks. One plot arc will not do for publication.

I've spent a bit of time tuning the "Bullshit Detector" of late (a Hemingway term). I'm growing much better at observing the failures in my drafts without casting internal doubt on my ability to repair the faults.

It is easy for the observation of failures to become paralyzing.

I know.

The mythical bullshit detector is that item of equipment a writer must have on hand which finds the weakest parts of one's own works and allows them to be objectively appraised and repaired without impairing the writer's appraisal of their own talent or acumen

It's too damn easy to read something and think "this sucks"  meaning instead "I suck." A properly calibrated bullshit detector offers critical feedback to the writer without drawing into question the writer's ability.

Critique groups? Yes, these should do it as well. Too often they don't.

In the end, the writer has to perform much of the same function themselves. No one likes submitting work that requires obvious revision.

I'm working on it lately. No one likes to get caught up in a flood.


Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

So true, Jack. Easy to really beat ourselves up, instead of our story. With reviews, it's the same way--a bad review isn't critical of *us*'s critical of (parts of) the story.

Sounds like you're well on your way to fixing any spots that need tweaking. Good luck with it!

jack welling said...

I'll gladly take the offer of luck. Thanks.

I'm wrestling bears at the moment. Quick. Distract them with a little circus bike!