clues at the scene

clues at the scene

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Little Lips Down to the Water and ..

At left, a mule deer on the John Day River courtesy of Oregon Fish and Wildlife. Great snap, folks! The photographer is listed as Dave Budeau.

The first rule of write club: We don't talk about our writing with non-writers. 

A friend asked about my offhanded remark a couple days ago when I implied talking about your work socially is ill-advised.

She thought maybe I was a little sharp.

Let me clarify:

You don't talk about your writing with non-writers.

Nobody cares about your works that are unavailable. You can't socially tell the story of your WIP because nobody can buy it.  That is a kind of rudeness: to discuss that which is not available for others.

Did you not bring enough bubble gum for the entire class, Marie? 

You really want to be the person who shows pictures of their summer vacation at a villa in the south of France on their cell phone at a party? Really?

That is who you are when you talk about unpublished works in a social setting. Argue all you like. Won't change the nametag the hostess set out for you one bit.

Better reason? Oh, Reason. You want reason! Here it is:

You can't talk about your work because when you talk about it, you - YOU - talk about it.

When we read your work, there is an abstraction that happens automatically correcting all measure of social transgression.

Case in point. Let's say you wrote Bambi. Almost.

You're to the part where you're burning down the forest. Fine. Let's see how this goes.

You to small captive cluster of almost friends: So they're running across this wonderful snow covered woodland and blam! A hunter's bullet blows Bambi's mom's brains out but Bambi doesn't notice and keeps running. He's ultimately orphaned in the depths of winter without survival skills. There's no way to see how this little fawn can possibly survive. Looks like the end of him. Real tear-jerker.

Them: You heartless sadistic prick! You wrote this for children? 

They won't ask if you're some type of pervert. They don't need your denial.

Didn't go well, did it?

You had to kill Bambi's mom to evoke the emotional investment which could carry your audience through the story. It's what you knew to do. It's what you the writer knew to do.

Everyone in that room had Bambi read to them as a child. Many have seen the movie. Nobody thought anything about it because, after all, deer are prey. They get shot.

You tell the story at the party then it is YOU telling the story, you twisted person.

Write the book about little girls whose teeth are pulled out after death by a female teenage murderer for the most trivial of possible reason and you get a prize for "best first novel" from the national writer's organization in your genre. Your party comrades pour you drinks and ask to have their picture taken with you.

If you don't see the difference, then you are in some real danger.

I advise you to either put down the pen, write memoir about your days in third grade, or have a steaming mug of STFU when you think of talking writing to non-writers.

We write about things that are wrong.

Nobody wants a story about happy bunnies taking a nap in a field of clover. Won't sell.

Write about a vicious orphanage whose children are "adopted"  into gourmet pate, and you might have something. 

Write about murder, come stand by me at the party.

Write about a mother who doesn't love the protagonist, well. I think Flannery was in the kitchen when I last saw her.

If you've got a character who can't reconcile his love of the wrong woman with his twisted self-important sense of duty, Ernie's in the library showing off a new rifle for bear.

I'd watch out.

He hasn't written anything in a while so I bet the gun is loaded. I bet he's looking to talk about some dramatic writing he's been considering.

Why don't you go ask him about it? I'm sure something will come of it. 

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