A Writing Blog About Playing Around with a Story Line in Different Literary Genres and Different Literary Modes
Writing Leap #21 The Writing Life
Writers are all part of the same tribe and for me it’s exhilarating to connect with members of my tribe in person, in their books and on the internet. We all share a lot of deep joy and angst.
Many writers have written about their writing journeys. To name just three: Annie Dillard The Writing Life, Anne Lamott Bird by Bird and Jill Krementz The Writer’s Desk, a collection of photographic essays of writers and their thoughts.
Writing about the writing life is not just about technique and “how to scribble right.” (Crucial to the writer as those books are.) Writing about the writing life is about your personal flight to the moon and back or aspects of that trip.
So writers, out with your pens!
Find some of your writing moments; highs, flops, your inspirational triggers. Be true. Don’t fuzz over the hard times. They may lead to new insights about your stories.
Gabrielle Roth was a dancer, author and sublime muse. She created a movement practice that follows the path of our innermost rhythms: from flowing to staccato to chaos to lyrical and finally to stillness. Dance journeys with Gabrielle through these five rhythms have in some mysterious way paralleled my writing journeys.
I am at this moment in deep writing chaos with my middle-grade children’s novel. My creative self is darting here, running there, going nowhere. Help me out again Gabrielle!
Flowing is lovely. Like the feeling I had dancing through my first draft, my imagination graceful and never-ending. That first draft exhilaration now seems far away. I read it now and sigh. So many flaws. So much to fix. I wake up these mornings with an ache and a certain dizzy dread. Will I get myself out of this hurricane?
I have all 28 chapters of my book spread out end to end on a very long table in a pathetic attempt to interweave plot lines, cut (should it be most of the book?) make my characters compelling. The chapters blur. I try setting them up on the left of my computer screen and a work in progress blank document to the right. The Rules of writing technique, all of them, are bossing me around, hammering me on the head. OK you Rules. I’ll make Maggie, my main character, less sensitive so she will be likable. I’ll bring in more conflict for her, I’ll create a more threatening antagonist. I’ll bring in more details about the setting.
But Ha! There is a personal perk that comes along with my painful revision. I must go back to Nantucket, my locale for the book and search out more unique physical details of the island. Don’t shake your head. It’s not a vacation. I must! I really don’t want to lose my original thrust, in this case a lyrical voice and magical realism. I leave tomorrow.
Here’s what I’m telling myself.
1. Revision IS writing. I know that, of course. And I know what to do. When I make a revision work it takes me to Gabrielle’s clear stillness that allows my creative self to move. Back full circle to flowing.
2. The love for my story and for Maggie is herculean and doesn’t waver.
3. What I know from my writing tribe is that most if not all writers get caught in riptides. But most rescue themselves. Will I? I will too, right?
LINKING THE ARTS
My Dancing and Writing Muse
Sweat Your Prayers by Gabrielle Roth
A Good Word Chaos. In the sense of not finding the path out of many swirling possibilities.
This painting by Mark Berson is called Chaos