Sunday, January 27, 2008

Looking beneath the surface

I have a friend, a writer I truly admire, Stephanie Bond, who gave a tip during a workshop to learn to write in small increments. She can set a timer and write for an hour or even 30 minutes, which means she is far more productive than I. I've tried this and I can even do it if I'm at the very end of a book, when every moment, sleeping and waking, is lived in the alternate reality of the novel's universe, and my own world is only viewed dimly through bewildered eyes.

But usually it takes at least an hour to read and re-read, to sit and dream, staring off into space, before I can fall into the place where the words come exactly as I want them. Well, never exactly, because there is always revising and rewriting, but closely enough that I'm satisfied with the words on the page.

Another technique many writers use is the crappy first draft, or don't-look-down first draft. Where you write anything, just to get it on the page, and then worry about revising later. I've never been able to do this, either. It paralyzes me. The Muse works differently in all of us; the Process is something that I've learned should be left alone. It's an arcane mystery in a world of pragmatism, at least for me, how this thing we call Creativity works.

So I let it be, unanalyzed, and try to be grateful that it works at all. Looking beneath the surface, trying to find the words.


Stacy L. said...

Alyssa - I have to admit that I don't care how the Muse works for each writer, as long as it keeps working! I know, I know, I'm a selfish reader that way.

With that said, readers appreciate the amazing creativity that authors come up with and the effort it takes. What takes an author up to a year to get on the market takes me, on average, a day to read. Doesn't seem like a very fair trade off for all your hard work. But I love every minute of my reading time!


Jessie said...

You know, I don't get the people that can just write and not edit as they go. Not a writer exactly, but sometimes I let stories I create in my head tumble onto the computer if I've time, and I just can't do it. I did that for NaNo and it nearly killed me. Because I would forget what I've written about, and I get sidetracked with reading over what I wrote. Granted, I got the 50k, but I wonder how much was actually salvageable.

I think being in fandoms, having betas and proofreaders, conditioned me to looking at things from that perspective. Which is why I rarely put my work up if someone hasn't looked it over at least once. A reliable person, let me state.

On the flip side, if we all had the tools to be writers, then anyone could be published. So it's good that you have a different creative process than others. It makes your books yours, and not an "Insert Character A in Conflict B while Understanding Concept C" Madlibs type deal.

Alyssa Day said...

Thanks Stacy!! Yes, it always makes me chuckle when people write the day of a book release and say, "when is the next one?" I'm thrilled for the enthusiasm, but it does take longer than a day to write a book! LOL.

Jessie, that's an intriguing perspective - and very true. And you know, I've read more than a few published novels that did read like ""Insert Character A in Conflict B while Understanding Concept C" and it always makes me angry. That sort of thing cheats the reader.

It's true that it gets harder with every book. You learn more as an author and you set the bar higher and the pressure is greater. But if it were easy, as you say . . .

hmmm. I was sort of wavering on this blogging thing, but I am so rewarded with the insights my readers leave. Thank you both!

Stacy L. said...

Ack! Don't stop blogging!!! I enjoy seeing what you come up with...although I totally understand if it takes up too much time you could spend with your family or writing.


Jessie said...

Ah ha! I'm back from the plague outbreak known as flu and cold season. Finally I can respond. And see. Let's not forget see.

I think reading fan fiction, as well original fiction, gives me a different perspective. Because I can see the canon and fanon sources. And there are some published authors that I can't always finish. Which is a shame, because books are practically life to me. They clear my mind of what's bothering and make me imagine how I'd react in the situations the characters I identify with are in.

Personally, I'm glad when an author grows book after book. Because the worlds they build, even one-shots, are seeable in the start but after awhile, you can practically smell the air. It's a fantastic thing.

I hope you don't stop blogging, because it's a rarity that I actually visit a person's work I admire webspace. Because it can cause you like the person, or it can taint their work in mind. But I've found that you're quite awesome. Hello, you have pugs. No one could be bad if they have rolypolys and love them. But as Stacy said, family definitely comes first. Including the zoo. ;)