Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Siliness - Mood Buttons 4, My ode, Thoughts on writing

I AM that ode!

Merry Monteleone wrote a fabulous ode for me. It's to the tune of "Stairway to Heaven". Make sure you check it out on her blog. She makes me sound wonderful - which of course I am.

Thoughts on Writing

When I wrote my memoir, the words flowed unrestrained. My fingers could barely type fast enough to keep up with my brain. The first draft was written in 2 weeks and had about 35,000 words. Then I went back and filled in all the details - ending with about 70,000 words in just over 6 weeks total. They were good words - great words in some cases with many interesting stories and lots of wisdom gathered from years of often totally screwing up my life.

Attendance at Backspace and frequent online visits to Miss Snark and other writing spots helped me through about 5 drafts before I figured out that it wasn't publishable as a book. There probably were several really good short stories or magazine articles in it, but that's beside the point which is, it was a really valuable learning experience.

Since then I've written periodically and quietly developed a story that's interesting to me and could be lots of fun. I put together story boards and outlined characters and places, working hard to implement all I've learned over the last year.

The problem is; when I sat down to write it the words didn't flow. Every time I wrote a few pages I had to go back and check for things like passive voice and adverbs and other nitpicky things that should best be left for the 2nd or 3rd draft. I asked for opinions too early from willing readers. It became an exercise in frustration and I hated it. '

Being sick always helps me put things in perspective. About 2/3 of the way through bronchitis, I reread my first 5 carefully crafted chapters and promptly deleted the whole thing. It sucked. It didn't have any of my personality or style. I was trying too hard to follow the damned rules and lost my voice in the process.

The rules are helpful and having an outline helps move me along the path, but too much structure and too many restrictions stifle me. I don't work well under those circumstances. I smothered myself.

The idea is still good, but I'm not going to censor myself when I start writing again. I'll write to the story but won't be concerned with occasional deviations or worry about typos or misspellings or passive voice or adverbs or any other grammatical mistakes as long as the words are flowing. I'll save all that for the 2nd or 3rd draft.

Sometimes a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. It can rob you of your creativity.

Here are some more of those silly buttons you can't wear to work :).


cyn said...

love the buttons, haha! AW, i think the hardest thing for me when i wrote my first novel was stopping the editor. it took A LOT for me to just do a brain dump, regurgitate, and not keep thinking of right words, etc. just trust your voice and trust your story. we all get hiccups (what next?!) but i know you can do it! you've done it before! esp if you have a good idea. =) tgif!

Stephen Parrish said...

Save that memoir. I bet it'll be worth something someday.

Church Lady said...

I agree with Stephen.

And I need to catch up on my button reading!

Merry Monteleone said...

I am loving the buttons - I hope the next time you get back to it you can relax and let it flow (easier said than done sometimes) but obviously, you can do it in your blogs, so I have every faith it will come in your fiction.

The Anti-Wife said...

I'm taking a brief break while I tie the editor up, gag her and throw her in the closet so I can get her out of my head for a while. We'll see what happens.

Yep. Soon as I run away with George Clooney or Paul McCartney, everyone will want to read about me.

The Anti-Wife said...

Please see my comment to Stephen above, then go read some buttons.

If I can't just relax and let the words flow, maybe fiction is not for me and I should stick to non-fiction. It will be interesting to see.

Mary Witzl said...

It is sometimes very hard to find a balance between writing from the heart and writing by the rules. I tend to put in far too many details, and when I go back to rewrite I overcompensate by trimming everything down to bare bones. This sometimes kills the flavor of my writing -- as does slavishly sticking to rules.

I do think you should hang on to your memoir, though. Sometimes it is tempting to throw things out. I had my finger on the 'Discard' button once, then reread the piece in question and found that I liked it a lot more than I had when I'd originally written it. I sent it to a friend for her opinion and she told me not to get rid of it, so I polished it up a bit and sent it off to a competition. It won a prize (free literary critique), and I have always been grateful to my friend for telling me not to throw it away. Just put your memoir in a drawer, then go back to it in a year and see what you think!