September 16, 2004

who wrote that?

So I did carve out a small slice of my afternoon (extremely small, unfortunately) to write. And it felt just as good/bad/good as it does. Hard and easy tangled up together in a writer's knot. I missed that. The hard part too, the part where you stare and ponder and fret and wonder and finally make it work in your head and on the page (you hope). Because it means that area of my brain was engaged again in a puzzle-solving way.

After I take a break from the novel, I always have to reread the last big chunk of words, both to get back into the flow of it and more concretely to know what's there so I have a handle on my characters' current moods and thoughts. Don’t want to write a big happy scene between two people who have just been thinking dark thoughts about each other. Or maybe I still can, but with that undercurrent firmly in place, not blithely forgotten. So I reread.

I remember rereading my scripts in first draft form. I usually winced, smiled, winced some more, but I recognized the words, remembered the writing process. The interesting thing now with this is that I don't. I look at it and I'm kind of awed. Not that it's so amazingly wonderful – it is, after all, a first, raw draft – but there's something about a novel (this novel?) that feels so, well, there. It exists, it has texture and flavor and I'm not completely sure how that happened or who wrote it. Which is good, I think, except that every time I sit down to work, I worry. Because whoever it is that wrote that last bit? I don't know where she went and here I am, stuck with her Word file and not a clue how to copy her style.

This is why I stopped writing fiction in college. I was always afraid I'd forget how to sink into that dream; it drove me to drink (just enough to loosen up my inhibitions) and then ultimately to stopping altogether (because I am so not a drinker). I still have that fear. The difference now is that I also have more guts. What's the worst that'll happen? A bad writing session, a deleted set of pages. I can live with that. And at least this way I'm warming the chair for that other writer, right?

Posted by Tamar at September 16, 2004 12:08 AM

I get that all the time. You've described it exactly. I'll look at the way I worded something and think, 'What a unique and unusual way to put that. I wonder who did it?'

The woman who wrote this great novel will be there again; she's there now. Just trust her. And in a few months you'll wonder about all the great things she wrote this week and whether you can possibly duplicate them...

Posted by: Tiny Coconut at September 16, 2004 07:55 PM