Monday, March 08, 2010

The Toughest Day

My toughest writing days aren't Mondays, unless that Monday happens to fall on New Chapter Day, as it does today. I'm passionate about editing, if 'editing' is even the right word for it. I love how deep into the story I can plunge, how absorbed I become in character, how much clearer I hear their different voices, see the setting through their eyes, understand what is important to them in each scene... after I have something already down on the page. A rough draft, even a very rough draft written in present tense (as my first drafts usually are), is enough. Then the story is truly alive and singing to me.

The toughest day of writing any new chapter is the day I plot it, make decisions on what needs to happen to drive the story forward. What inner conflicts and external conflicts need to come into play. What possible bits of story I must discard, or save for later. I tend to procrastinate on such days (I'm doing it this minute). I put on socks. I take them off and try slippers instead. I sweep the kitchen floor. Fix one more cup of tea. Read one more blog post. Answer one more email. Read one more post on the ACFW main loop about pesky hidden messages in our fiction, or whatever.

I usually give myself ten or twenty minutes of this mental girding of the loins, then I dive in with a prayer that I will be focused, disciplined and work harder than I feel like working.... because if I do, I'll end the day in relief and satisfaction, maybe even standing up from this computer with a laugh of delight. And tomorrow will be a joyful day of diving deeper into whatever I wrote today.

So here goes. May today be a day of grace for each of us, in whatever project we've set our hands and hearts to.

Inspiration comes during work, not before it. The hardest part of the morning is the first half hour or so when I will put off for as long as possible the actual work on whatever book I'm currently writing... put off the moment of plunging in. But after I've dipped my toes in the cold water for long enough, I hold my breath and jump in. And once I'm in, if it is a day of grace (and it often isn't), then something will happen, and just what that something is remains, for me, a mystery.

~ Madeleine L'Engle, Madeleine L'Engle {Herself}

2 comments:

  1. Interesting! I think there are as many types of writers and writing styles and idiosyncrasies as there are books. For me, creating is bliss and editing is work. I tend to get a snack, surf the internet, and answer another email before doing that edit. Not so for first draft stuff:) In fact, going there right now...

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  2. Laura, that's why I hesitated to call it editing. I think it's still part of the creating process for me. Those first words are hard to get down, but an hour later, or next day, when I read over them a second or third or fourth time, they're still all warm and gooey, and new ingredients blend right in with ease.

    Editing is something that happens after they've cooled, and requires a carving knife. :)

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