Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Wishful Thinking

A long time ago I decided I was going to write something. I started and stopped. About a hundred times. I would have a character, or sometimes two, that would have a conversation in my head and I ‘d have to write it down. Then…nothing. This has happened several times. I guess it was a flash in the pan. Once I wrote down the specific thing that was rolling around in my head it was gone, poof, vanished. Try as I might I couldn’t get it back. Believe me, I’ve tried. I began to think that something was wrong with me.

So, I bought this book when my sister E was visiting, called ‘Writing Down the Bones’. It was a cute little book, pocket-sized almost, and looked interesting. After I opened it, I was amazed. Apparently, it’s a pretty well known book that has been used in college English classes for a couple of decades now. I had never heard of it, but almost everything this woman writes is profound for me. I find myself wanting to copy down things so that I will remember them, but truth be known I’d be copying so much, it really is pointless and in the end just becomes plagiarism.

She talks about making a rule that you will fill a notebook a month. It doesn’t matter what crap you write, as long as you write. Quantity not quality. If you get one good thing out of that notebook, bonus. You may go through several notebooks with nothing good, it doesn’t matter. Write anyway. I’m inspired.

It was after reading her chapter on writing exercises that I wrote Sad Trips Down Memory Lane… because she recommended an exercise called “I Remember” and I had my grandmother on my mind that morning. She also recommends the bribery system, as in “ write something today and I will reward you with 2 chocolate chip cookies from the bakery down the street”. I could definitely use a bribe like that on myself.

I have been tinkering with the idea of posting some of the things I have written, half stories that were never finished. I have learned about myself that no matter how unromantic it is to write on the computer, my thoughts flow more freely when I am typing. My fingers can keep up with my brain better this way. I haven’t posted anything thus far out of fear. Not the fear that you may think. It’s not fear that someone won’t like it that keeps me bound up. I could care less if no one likes it. I have a fear that people will like it and encourage me to finish it. I don’t know if they can be finished. Having an audience creates pressure. I haven’t been able to finish them on my own. The characters are gone from me. How would I even start to finish?

The point of posting them would be to sort of give them flesh, maybe spark my brain into something I hadn’t thought of, and maybe even force myself to acknowledge the end of them. Who knows? Maybe I will be able to finish them one day and when that day comes I’ll know where to find them. I won’t have to worry that I’ve lost the file because they will have a permanent home here on the blog.

Recently, I have been encouraged by reading an interview done with Ken Follett about his book ‘Pillars of the Earth’, which is one of my most favorite books. He said it was one of the first novels he ever tried to write, but it was too massive for his brain at the time. He put it away, wrote dozens of other novels that ended up being published, and years later pulled it back out and finished it. It became his masterpiece and now sort of defines him as a writer. He said that the story in his head was ahead of his time and his brain had to catch up to it. I really like that story. Maybe one day, one of the characters in my head will leap out onto paper, come to life and define me as a writer. Just maybe.

For now, I think that I will start compiling stuff and posting it. Stay tuned.


K. Erickson said...

Oy, Mel, you are not alone. I have 3 blog post drafts sitting in my taskbar right now not including the Word doc I keep with other, bare bones topic ideas. Then there are the character sketches that have gone nowhere, and the 2 or 3 novel ideas that are sitting more or less in ruins in my brain awaiting time and patience to sit down and work on them.

Melanie said...

Promise me when I do post, you'll not give me any crappy comments, like "that was wonderful!! You should write more!!" or I'll drive to Texas and beat you with whatever is laying around your yard, ok? I want real, meaty criticism...I can't get any around here! LMAO
As always, thanks for joining me in the pit :)

webless said...

Here is your "crappy comment." That was so wonderful! You are so awesome! More, more, more! ;) Love you, Mel! :) And I am still proud of you. :)

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