Thursday, June 14, 2007

Middle of the Month

So, a writer friend said, "You haven't posted in a while."
I replied, "Yes I have." And honestly I tried very hard not to get all defensive. I smiled. Well, my eyes were a little narrow and my lips were kind of tight, but it was still a smile. I squared my shoulders and puffed out my ample chest. "I wrote that one on nothing, I'm sure that was the title. I thought it was kind of cute."
She rolled her eyes. "I don't do cute."
"Well, neither do I, as a rule, but I was in a playful mood."
"Yeah, more likely had a few cocktails. You still need to post."

So here I am. And I haven't even had a glass of wine. Honest. Anyway I was thinking about some writing stuff today as I began the second deconstruction and reconstruction of an earlier manuscript. I've grown immensely, as a writer, this year and it's obvious to me. Well maybe also as a person, still haven't tried on either pantsuit. But back to writing. The Crusie/Mayer workshop in itself has been amazing, and all of the blogs and links to other sites and writers minds that I've learned about from the Jenny Crusie Forums have proved invaluable.

The workshop has helped me clarify so many points in storytelling structure. Where I may have known or read of these steps in writing a good story (and believe me I have a huge self-help library) I only understood them on an intellectual level. The workshop made me work, duh, therefore the name. Slaps herself upside the head. It made me take the knowledge learned and get out of my own way. I had to physically apply that new knowledge to my manuscript and then step away, then come back and look at it again. Believe me, it is much better for the effort.

I think to be a good writer those step-points have to be fully integrated, part of the very essence of you. They need to flow unhindered from mind, to fingertip, to page. It's like learning to drive a car, you have a teacher, a companion sitting beside you as you venture out onto the highway. Then you're finally on your own. You're still a little unsure, a little too careful, at first you think about all of the rules and you go through a step-by-step process. You put on your seat belt, adjust the side mirrors, glance several times into the rear view mirror, turn the ignition, put the car into reverse, check the mirrors again, reverse out of the garage and try not to kangaroo it (make it jerk for those non Aussies reading this) and the whole time your heart is pounding and your saying, "Man this is awesome I'm driving a freakin' car. I got my license." Several months later you drive home and think, "How the hell did I get here?" Everything has become so automatic it seems the car, with a mind of its own, left the origination point and somehow found its way to the destination, your garage. Your confidence as a driver grew out of sheer practice, going through the steps until it became automatic. You didn't question, you didn't overthink, you just did.

I feel confident that I'm there now, doing what comes naturally not kangarooing it, just staying with the flow and letting the words fill the page. It feels good. I love being on automatic.

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