The Vagaries of Writing

>> Wednesday, August 17, 2011

I do not write like many other writers. Many people are advocates for the write-every-day-no-matter-what method and more power to them. I can't do that. It's not laziness on my part, though, of course, I am lazy. I literally cannot write like that because my brain works differently than normal people. While I go through my day to day reading and workin' and blogging and reading blogs, and otakuing, and watching kids and stuff, my subconscious takes everything I'm exposed to and plays with it, tweaks it, fillets it, combining it with work I started but that petered out or was going in the wrong direction, and ideas I've had that I haven't quite figured out what to do with.

Then, most likely when I'm desperately busy with something, it will push out the new story and say, "Write this, write this now" and I'll be filling every free minute (and not so free minute) with writing and crafting and putting down dialog and refining a few details my subconscious left so my conscious mind wouldn't feel useless. The good news is that it will come out (based on the last four works) pretty clean, with perhaps a little rearranging and a bit of polishing but really not requiring a serious overhaul. And, as I write it, I'll love it like I'm my own fan, tickled at my own jokes and falling in love with this or that character. It's sadly narcissistic but there you have it.

It's, in fact, very gratifying to write that way...except, in between these sessions where I'm all but hemorrhaging fiction, I have nothing to write and feel a bit useless. This is compounded by the realization that my subconscious is clearly working on something but, and this is the kicker, I have no idea what it might be. It could be something I started that needs to be finished. It could be the next sequel in my Bete novel series. It could be my husband's novel he's been wanting me to finish for some bloody time now (though that's partially his fault - we've written nearly 200,000 words on it, but we have to keep starting over as his idea grows up). It could be a couple of the ideas I've been kicking around that I think have promise.

Or it could be something completely different, something I hadn't even thought of. So that all the work I have languishing will continue to languish as I gush over something completely unexpected (which happened last time). Pity really. I like much of the stuff that's languishing, but I'm afraid to tackle it without my subconscious (which does the GREAT writing) in case it gets all uppity and refuses to help at all. Which it is prone to do. Sigh.

It could just be that my subconscious wants me to start actively marketing the work it's already done. Which is actually a good idea.

Sigh again.


  • Dr. Cheryl Carvajal

    I'd just love to get something worthy to send out. I'm struggling with that right now.

    I'm tired of editing, though. Why can't my first draft just be brilliant?


  • Stephanie Barr

    I can understand your frustration and I might remind you that my subconscious wasn't always as useful as it is today. My first novel still is in desperate need of serious revision and my second, although extensively rewritten many times, will likely never be publishable. My subconscious had to learn and grow, too.

    But, yeah, I do like getting a clean first draft (but I can't stand any other kind). If it's too "dirty" I just shut 'er down and move on. Perfectionist, you know.

    On the other hand, it would be nice to know what I'm writing about, to write during those times I HAVE time, you know, at my convenience.

    And I wouldn't mind having a more conscious influence on my own stuff. Sometimes I feel like a ghetto Mozart ('cause I'm a hack next to a genius like Mozart), channeling rather than creating magic.

  • Jeff King

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • Jeff King

    Do what works for you… the better you feel, the more “into” you are the better the writing will be perceived.

    I am with you! I have no conscience ability to make my writing “good” that’s why it takes me so long to edit… I just can’t let the subconscious go.

    One thing I do get out of writing every day: is an ability to get comfortable with getting into the zone quicker, and helping my creative side stay active.

    Whatever works for you best: I say do!

  • Relax Max

    A ghetto Mozart?

    Actually I think you write science fiction MUCH better than Wolfy would have.

    I'll reach down in my ol' moldy adjective bag if you would like a more colorful description of your writing genius. :)

    Kidding as usual. I am bored and felt a need to stop by and harass the Rocket Scientist.

    Btw, thank you for your unexpected comment praising Sarah Palin. I'll admit to being shocked at your admiration of her.

  • Stephanie Barr

    Thanks, Jeff. You're always so supportive.

    RM, you're always welcome to come here. Now that you mention it, Mozart didn't write his own librettos. But, as I'm sure you knew, I was comparing my writing caliber with his musical genius, or, rather, pointing out that I couldn't.

    If you thought that comment was complimentary, I begin to see where our communication problems are coming from.

  • Relax Max

    Naw, I didn't get that. I thought you were comparing him to your writing genious. You can imagine how foolish I feel now.

    You actually did make a comment? I'll have to go back and look soon. :)

  • Relax Max

    I meant "ginius" of course.

  • Laura

    Oh, I completely agree...I also find it impossible to follow the write-every-day maxim. Or at least the write-the-same-thing-every-day maxim. I might be working on my book, or poems for class, or freelance articles...Writing as often as possible *is* something I try to do, but it can lead to exhaustion and burnout pretty quickly.

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