Saturday, April 19, 2008

An ugly turn from fun and easy to fun and grueling

I love writing. I have been writing stories since I was seven. I'm a total word nerd and word play can reduce me to giggles. And I'm not a giggler.

But this past week that I've been working on my novel has been grueling. I'm not thinking about the word count (much-- though I am inching back up towards 50k). I'm not worrying about all those red and green squigglies (much-- thank you MSWord for another way to distract me from writing.)

The first 50 thousand words of this novel were easy. They came readily from my fingertips, sometimes faster than I could tap them out on the keys. The next 20 thousand words has been a lot more difficult as I try beat the story into shape. I'm not ready to conclude that the method of writing this novel was flawed... but it sure does elicit a few curses these days. No, I didn't outline a damn thing. And I spent months not even having an idea of an answer to the key question... probably not the wisest.

Writing was easy when I didn't know what I was doing. Back in my younger days. And when I didn't worry about what was happening in the novel, just spewed words like a colorful spray of red pop from a punctured Faygo bottle. Writing is hard. It's work. Fun work. I'm still enjoying the fruits of my labor, and it's so nice to see this twisted hunk of plot hammer into something nice and smooth and slightly shiny. Anyone who's ever tried to hammer a bent piece of metal smooth again knows how fun and easy that is...

Writing is really easy when it's just fun. Once things get serious, say, for publication, then the fun becomes work. Again, not bad work, but it is a lot more work than just stringing together fun sentences about fun people doing fun things. (Or whatever variation of fun stroytelling.)

It's a good thing I love writing or this past week of hacking, slashing, mangling and banging on my novel would have easily discouraged me. Instead, I think, somewhere beyond the thick foliage, I might see a light at the end of the novel.

Or maybe just a freight train coming my way.


pattinase (abbott) said...

God bless you. Love short stories, hate novels. Of course, ask me what I read most and it's novels. Love writing short stories, love reading novels.

Clair Dickson said...

I love reading both, depending on what I'm in the mood for.

I just hope that like any long, hard journey, I'll be happy with the destination. The journey's great, but I hope I come out on the seaside, not a trash heap.

Anonymous said...

Could outlines be better tools for the college paper? A tale takes a troubled earth. A world where wanderers wake to wonder how they would go today. Tolkien tells of Middle Earth. The Kings talk of Castle Rock. Chandler found the one good man to save the City of Angels from utter condemnation. Words have power for unintended consequences. To consider what outline means to me, I see a rigid hierarchical structure rule bound. To expand that concept to include a map's boundaries and the action’s timelines may prove useful, if it helps the reader navigate successfully from beginning to end. So as you can see the advice that we need most to learn and remember we happily give away lest it infect our own actions.