Thursday, May 10, 2007


I don't generally write *about* my writing process, even to myself, because it, like my faith, is something I don't like to question too much. Sufficing to say I had a woman I go to occasionally for spiritual/life guidance tell me once that I don't write so much as channel, like she does, and I couldn't exactly argue the point. I don't generally feel writing comes from me so much as it comes through me. Ever since I first set fingers to keys and felt this great electricity almost literally spilling from me into our new elementary school computers, I haven't ever felt like I was ever creating anything. I felt like I was opening a door and setting it free.

There's a few age-old questions that are put to writers, one of which is "where do you get your ideas" another, asked among writers, "do you start with a problem, a setting, or a character." I can't remember many instances in which a story didn't leap out of my head, very nearly fully formed, like Athena. Question 1 is easy to deflect, because mostly people just want to hear "oh, here and there" or something else that's fluffy and easy to absorb. I hate question 2, especially when I'm in the company of other writers. I feel like answering it puts me in the position of the woman who has the one-day period without cramps at a girl-gab session. I often hear writers say they have characters running around their heads without a setting; neat, interesting people they'd just like to be able to put somewhere. I've never met a character who didn't already belong somewhere, and I write character-driven stories (the other kind being problem-driven stories). When I begin to explore a story idea, when it arrives from the great beyond or the big long hall of board rooms in my head, or wherever from whence it hails, the first thing I get is a scene. A fully-formed, often more-than-one-character-present, set in some modern or fantastic or science fiction locale, scene. Like someone just decided now would be a good time to hold a screening for some new movie in my head. Usuallly the scene's happening from a certain character's perspective, who is usually the one who ends up being the main character. After that scene, I ask "what's next" and "what came before" and I almost always get answers in the form of more scenes. Inevitably, I have to find a way to string the scenes together, but I always get a beginning, middle, and end, and generally a whole lot more. I might be mumbling the long scenes of dialogue out loud like a crazy person for a week or so, but one these people come upon me, they come ready to tell their version of events. I flounder in writing more often than not because I can't see what happened between scenes, or I'm just plain bored listening to this character.

This has led to me having some rather... pushy characters. In my head, I can walk in on stories that have been replaying themselves over and over again, just waiting for the right time to grab my attention. I've never said I won't write, or finish a story. I just say, not now.

Except the other day when I said I wouldn't finish Thieves. This caused quite a stir in that pot, and now it's boiled over and I have some very feisty people trying to have their say (while I'm trying to finish the second book of the Evelyn Blomquist series, no less). The really hard thing is that I'm a little bored with Evie, and the Thieves characters have begun assailing this crack. I don't want to be distracted, but then again, I haven't "heard" anything from the Thieves camp in two years. Is this an opportunity or a derailing?


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