Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Processing the Process

It occurred to me this morning that I have put time constraints and pressure on my writing. I had these ideas that if I finished a particular piece by a certain time that I would get published sooner.

This push caused me to falter in my growth of the craft. Today I am rethinking everything. What does it take to make a good revision? How do I see what constitutes a good change in the manuscript? How do I make sure what is in my head is actually put in the story?

For me it boils down to taking the time, however much I need, away from the ms so that when I come back to it my mind is not filling in the blanks. I need to take the time to completely think about what I have written compared to the authors whose writing I love.

What kept me from doing this before? So many things that I can't name them all, but the biggest one is impatience. I am so used to learning easily and understanding things right away that I expected this to happen for me in the writing process. didn't.

It really was a surprise for me. I thought that if I put the story on paper it would automatically read like I see it in my head. Of course it doesn't. I am learning that it will take many attempts before what I see with my minds-eye is present in the story for the reader to pick up.

How did I come to this conclusion? It took an agent pointing out the problem. He had complimented many things about the story and my writing. But, and there definitely was a but, in his own words "the story was light in characterization."

It took me aback. I knew my main character inside and out. If anyone asked anything about her I could tell them without hesitation. The problem was no one else would know any of that from reading the story and I couldn't see what was missing.

It took me taking the time to think about all of my favorite books and what made me love them. Then I had to think, really think, about my main character. Can you guess what I found? The agent was absolutely right! ( that is some kind of surprise.) But it took him saying this before I could see it. So now I have to completely rethink how I think about my writing. Metacognition at work. Sorry, the psychologist slipped through.

While this is a great 'aha' moment for me, has anyone else experienced this great epiphany in their writing?

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