Friday, March 25, 2011

Simmering

I once posted about a piece by Heather Sellers in which she said writing "takes extraordinary focus, attention, and acres of time."

I've found myself mentally quoting that "acres of time" phrase a lot lately. This is especially true of my writing at the first- and second-draft stages. I need thinking time, digesting time. The stewpot in my brain is working on something; it needs time to simmer.

I would love to be able to bang out a novel in a week, but my brain won't make the necessary connections at that speed. Something happens in the hours I'm not at the writing desk; something changes in me between writing sessions. I can leave my desk with absolutely no idea of where the characters are going next--and 24 hours later, I know. Without question--it's so obvious now!

I need time to follow false leads, backtrack, rewrite.
I write scenes that end up on the cutting-room floor. I need time to second-guess, to scrap scenes and characters and subplots and replace them with something stronger.
I need time to gain access to my characters' deepest secrets, to fight through their defense mechanisms.
I need time to figure things out.

Some people can write quickly. That's wonderful, and enviable. But some of us just have to simmer.

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