November 23, 2011

Getting it RIGHT

I'm pretty laid back about my writing. I know it's not perfect, never will be perfect. I am not perfect, never will be perfect.

So why should my writing be?

Then...I started reading On Writing by Stephen King.

"Write with intention," he says (among many, many other things).

You may remember...I started my first book with absolutely no intention. It was a whim, a lark. It only grew into something as time passed.

Not so with Book 2, which I started in a vague sort of way last week.  I know my plot. I know how I want my characters to grow and change, and what I want them to do. I don't necessarily know how they'll do it all, but I have an outline in my head.  A very loose, amorphous outline, but an outline nonetheless, which is something I absolutely didn't have for the first go-round.

So...what has this lead to? This writing with intention and an outline?

I've had a scene floating around in my head for a week .  It involves a church, an organ, and an eventual zombie attack.  Two characters who've lost so much.  Music. Stained glass.  (Lots of spiritual stuff for this Jewish girl...)

Last night I started working on it, and for the first time, I cared about every word.  Every syllable.  The juxtapositioning of a song with chaos.  I wrote, I deleted, I wrote and deleted.  

In frustration, I emailed my friend Jen.  "I loooooove it," I said.  "But it's so haaaaard."

Because...I can bang out 2000 words in an hour if I'm not paying attention.  But when I care? When I write with intention?  Two hours of work yielded only 811 words.

This writing with intention stuff? It's hard!  But I think it's ok that it's hard. I think I'll end up with an even better finished product.  Because I'm going to get it RIGHT!


Let the record show I would not have read On Writing without the urging of my husband.  Let the record show...he was right. It's a really great book for a writer like me.


Let the record also show that this blog post was made possible by a tent.  Zoe and I have been doing our Thanksgiving baking, listening to Christmas music, and she has now retired to her play tent with all of her action figures. I think this will keep her occupied for at least an hour!! 


Jen said...

Ah! I didn't realize you were trying a new approach. Our whole exchange makes more sense now. I thought you were just having a weirdly perfectionist night.

For what it's worth, I did see a distinct difference between the scene you sent me and the draft of Book 1 that you showed me earlier this year. Even between the lakeside scene you sent me a month ago and this scene. If you want some notes I could probably send you something over the weekend.

And 811 words in two hours? That sounds totally reasonable to me. People who can do 2K/hour blow my mind. My prose pace is around 350/hour, give or take. When I write poems I usually work at about 100 words an hour!

Leah said...

Hee hee - I wasn't *intentionally* trying a new just sort of happened...the way everything in my life seems to.

That said, I like it and will keep with it, at least through Book 2. Because it my head, it's written.

Thanks - no notes at this point, but I appreciate the offer tremendously. Have I mentioned how lucky I feel to have you for a writing buddy??

Jen said...

Aw! The feeling is mutual!

And... but... wait. You were being UNINTENTIONALLY intentional when you wrote that scene? What??

Happy Thanksgiving!

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