Saturday, November 7, 2009

Thinking Time

The hardest part of writing a story, for me, is the second draft. I write the first draft with abandon, recklessly. Having fun, in other words. But then comes the excruciating part as I try to get the story to make sense, get those elegant, unruly characters into line.

I look for excuses at this stage to avoid it. I pick up the phone, check my email (again), sort my bills. I even have to trick myself, by leaving the manuscript on the kitchen table where I usually write, and where I'm confronted by its unresolved bulk at least three times a day.

Brenda Ueland, author of If You Want to Write: a Book About Art, Independence & Spirit (first published by G.P. Putnam's Sons in 1938), suggests that if you're having trouble at this stage it could be because your story is not yet well-enough "imagined." It needs more time, more thinking time.

She says, "Try to see the people better . . . See them-- just what they did and how they looked and felt. Then write it. If you can at last see it clearly the writing is easy."

I think I knew this already; sometimes I just need a little reminder. So, today I'll spend time with my characters. Perhaps they'd like to help me clean up the flowerbeds?

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