Thursday, January 8, 2009


I'm not really sure what happens. Sometimes I know what's next, sometimes I don't, and it comes to me. This was what made writing a novel such an odd experience. You try to stay away from "plotting," but any substantial amount of writing in a short amount of time has to have some kind of structure, at least a skeleton, because otherwise, it just comes out a little too jumbled. A little too much of a mess. At least that's what seemed to happen to me.

Stephen King does his best not to plot (says his only really good plotted novel is The Dead Zone, which definitely meets both requirements and does nothing to hide them, is very forward about its knowledge of the future with all of its foreshadowing), and maybe that's something to strive toward, but it isn't something that I find all that attainable all the time. Sometimes it seems like I'm a generation behind, with William Gibson saying that "word-processing did away with 'drafts', for [him]," I still find myself writing things over and over again. Sometimes it's longhand to typing, but occasionally it is just rereading something I once wrote and understanding what I wanted to write, what I want to write, somehow more than I did back then.

Basically drafting turns stories into virtually new constructs; themes change, characters speak different lines, endings flip, and I don't really know how to think about things like this. It is both positive and negative to feel that you can rewrite something and make it better, for it seems to imply that you have become a better writer, but also allows a work to never be truly finished, always tinkered with, always added on to, and there's a certain near unacceptable obsession with perfection that leaks its way into your mind. But that's not what this is about.

The problem I have is actually running into roadblocks in the shortest of stories. I get these ideas, but they only work for about a fourth of the story. It's difficult to actually finish anything, when I'm unable to see what's next, and I move on to something else. This is a problem I have. One of the reasons I tried to write a novel in a month was to see if I could work through these blocks, but what it really resulted in was what I've already mentioned, "plotting."

And I don't really think I should be talking about this. I'm not a proven writer in anyway. People like Stephen King or Annie Dillard write books about this, but in reading them, I find that the only true rule I've really gotten is that there is no set way to do this. Everyone has their own set-up, style, points to make. You can try to listen to the people who write books about this, but for me, those don't really help. It's basically just autobiography: This is how I write.

I don't really feel like I deserve even that. The only real way to discuss fiction, the only real way to discuss writing, is by writing a novel about it. This is something I truly believe, but that does not mean I wish people to stop writing books "on writing." They have their own secrets to reveal, their inspirations to give. I just mean to point out that I don't know how well this can be taught. I wouldn't go as far as King in saying that there has to be some kind of latent talent to being a writer, because I don't really know that I have any talent myself.

But I think the best kind of writing about writing is the kind that I've been reading lately. Fairly straight metafiction, referring specifically to Easton Ellis's Lunar Park and Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being.

Sorry for wasting your time there. I'll admit, I don't really think anything I've said can be trusted, since I'm not certified in this. There is one thing I should mention. The one thing that I really do think is true is Stephen King's adage that the best thing you can do for your writing is to read a lot and write a lot.

I'm stuck in a story right now. Having trouble writing.

That's what this is, I guess. Somewhere to keep my voice from getting rough from disuse.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for reading and/or commenting. Anything you have to say is especially appreciated.