Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Brain flexing, zeppelin stats and not reading

In yesterday's comments, caMoore said:

My editor tells me to not worry about what I am putting down just put the words down and look at it later. The exercise is to flex your brain.
Have you flexed your brain today?

I like that attitude and it's one shared by a lot of self-help writing books: Bird by Bird, Writing Down the Bones, The Modern Library Writer's Workshop. You let it all come splatting out of your head and then you go back and fix it later. Reading interviews of Jeffrey Ford (like this one at his Live Journal) it appears he writes much this way and later "beats" a story into shape.

And yet, it's not the only way to write. Caitlin Kiernan often talks about how she writes. She keeps
working over the words she does on a given day until she's sure they are the right ones. She ends up doing
1,000 words a day, maybe, but when she is done with the book she only has to copyedit and fix any
logical or factual errors. (Apparently, this has changed for her in the last year.)

It's one of the many things I consider while I'm trying to figure out how I write, or rather how I should write. I do like just letting it all out on the page and then coming back to fix it up later. In fact, I don't think I could use Kiernan's method. I think it would drive me crazy.

I do want to try something differnt though. I want to try and write using a really detailed outline. I want to create a plot structure and all and follow it through. I think this would work best on a novel, so the next one I write (the next one I actually want to become something more than a dust collector) I will try this out.

In the meantime, I need to follow the current process through. I have to stop writing things and just letting them fall away, never to be looked at again. After I finish "Zeppelin Hijack," I'm going to pull out one of my older stories and figure out what is good about it and if the characters are worth something and then I'm going to rewrite it and form something better. That's my next step: true editing.

In the meantime, I'm still working on "Zeppelin Hijack." I wrote a couple of paragraphs today, I was much too easily distracted. I had a couple of important phone calls to make, but I still could have done more than I did. I really think I need to stop myself from reading blogs first thing. I think I need to write first and then start checking in. It's OK, if all those blogs remain unread in Bloglines, they aren't going anywhere.

I'm thinking in a revision of this story, a zeppelin can't work. How high can a zeppelin fly? There's a certain amount of realism I need to add to this story and maybe this first basic idea needs to be dropped. But I'm not worried about it now, it can be changed later. Right now, the plot and characters are of prime importance, I have to "discover" both of them.


At Views from Medina Road the editor of Locus Online talks about the many writers who are desperate to be published despite having no interest in what is happening in the field, or reading the best the field has had to offer. I can't understand a writer like that. Why would you want to write when you aren't interested in reading? Or, more fairly, why would you want to write in a field you are not interested in keeping up with.

If I wasn't constantly reading, I'd have no interest in writing. I want to write because I want to create these wonderful works that make me think and feel. If you don't read this stuff, why don't you make a TV show or a movie or a video game? There's nothing wrong with any of those and they pay a whole lot more. And if you just want to be creative, there are so many other ways.

On the other hand, if you're fascinated by words, stories and reading, please write. How can that enjoyment not show up in what you do? The more you care about it, the better it has to be.

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