Friday, June 29, 2007

finding what was never lost

Today (instead of working) I read a fantastic article about writing. I won't pontificate further, the author makes his case far more eloquently that I could.

In the space between my last novel and my current one, I went through a lot of words. Many worlds were built, peopled, imperiled, and thrown aside in fits of ennui. I was bored with it all, bored with endless world building and complicated histories, bored with the vital, core practices of writing.

This terrified me, and I spent most of the first part of this year ignoring it. After all, I was doing everything right. I got up every morning at 7 and diligently wrote until it was time to go work, where I would make maps and fill in my wiki until I went home and wrote some more. Such is the process, I thought, by which every novel is built. Only I was failing. My writing was horrid, painful, and, worst of all, dull. This sparked more terror. If I was bored with writing, I was bored with life. "You are failing our Great Ambition," my inner teenager screamed constantly, "How can you go on?!" And the secret was, I couldn't. Not as I was. And that was more frightening than the boredom.

Then, one morning a few weeks ago, I stumbled upon the stupidly simple answer. I would just write something else. Something fun. And I wouldn't worry about if the writing was good or if I knew where I was going. I had a book series I'd been half planning for months, but hadn't really written anything down for, so I decided to try that. I didn't have a map, and only one character actually had a name when I opened the new file, but I knew how it began, and that was enough for one morning's worth of work.

I loved it, I was giggling and writing faster than ever before. I ended up being late to work because I had to finish off the scene. It took me six months to lose my joy of writing, but only 2 hours to find it again.

I'm 10,000 words into my new book, and it hasn't always been as easy or fun as that first day. Right now, for example, I've written my way into a corner that would not have been here if I'd planned this novel like I did my others. Free fall writing is not without its disadvantages. But I haven't been bored. Sometimes, I can feel the boredom creeping when I'm working my way through some particularly weighty square peg that needs to go in a round hole. When that happens, I just pick it up and move on. Perfection is a moot point at this stage, so is worrying and pace. All that matters is flying free with the story.

Writing is fun again. Sweeter words were never written.

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