Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Excavating, with a dessert spoon

Two posts have inspired me today: a long one from Susan Taylor Brown ("When you commit to writing a novel there is no guarantee that the story you first start to tell will be the same story when you finally type “the end” and close the book. ... You have to be willing to fight your way through the multiple garbage drafts and revision and spend a lot of time gazing at the screen or the blank pages of your notebook and asking yourself, okay, what happens next and how can I make it work?") and a short one from Beth Kephart ("I sit here, my eyes closed, teaching myself writing all over again.")

The lesson for the day seems to be that every book throws curveballs. Writing a book teaches me a lot, but it doesn't necessarily teach me how to write the next book. It doesn't give me a shortcut. Every book I've written has kicked my butt around the block. Try Not to Breathe almost wrote itself sometimes; it was, comparatively speaking, the easiest book I've ever written. But I say "comparatively" because of those early chapters that I tossed out, the neighbor family that had to disappear because they contributed nothing to the plot, the entire ending that didn't even exist in the first draft because I hadn't yet realized that I needed to close the circle, to knock down a few more of the pins I had set up in the beginning.

Try Not to Breathe came about because I was trying to write a verse novel. No other book I've written has begun that way. They all insist on being written in their own unique Speshul Snowflake ways. It's comforting to know that so many other writers feel this way, that the order of a book begins in chaos for so many of us. Here's to that glorious mess!

4 comments:

  1. I like the notion of having a book write itself- I'd like to get there someday. I also love the notion of having a book revise itself too but I don't know if I'd ever get there.

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    1. It would also be great if it would market itself, and whip up some chocolate mousse for me in its spare time. ;-D

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  2. I love how you explained this. Every book for me has been so different. Some not necessarily easier, but more natural, I think. It's important to take it in stride.

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    1. My stride seems to be stumbling and floundering. ;-)

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