Thursday, June 19, 2008

OH YES I CAN...

Today I opened my file and looked at my words - 499 of them – and I thought ‘I can’t do this.’

What? You can’t write 100 words? Yes you can. That’s not a book, that’s 100 words – you can do that. You’ve been doing that for three days… And there I was back on track again. Hurrah for 100 words a day.

I do let myself get worked up about the little things. The details: my story opens with a funeral – and yes, we have a Humanist funeral expert in our midst – but this is a Christian funeral. I’ve tried and tried to talk myself into making him have a Humanist service, so that I can ask Zinnia, but it’s just not right. He wouldn’t. I’ve only ever been to one funeral and that was 22 years ago (OMG, can that be right?) So then I have to go and do some research …

A couple of days ago it was the layout of the village. Some of her progress through the village has to be in the opening: she hasn’t been home for 10 years or so. She doesn’t want to be there but she has to for her father’s funeral. How could I write her arriving home in the village without knowing the layout of the village? So I had to stop and make a map…

Then I get my knickers in a twist about layout of the ms. I know this can all be fixed at the end, but wouldn’t it be easier to know NOW and do it right now? Not everything can be left to be ‘fixed’ at the end. I’ve read the rules, and I’ve looked in books to get it right and my head just won’t absorb the information. How many times do I need to do it?

11 comments:

Angie said...

Oh JJ, our writing process sounds so similar from the 'I can't do this' on opening the document, to the knicker-twisting over every detail we don't know. :) Hang in there and take each detail as it comes along. I researched for months before really writing anything and still didn't find everything I needed, I had to write myself into those corners to know what to look for! You're doing so well and I'm very intrigued my the details you shared...

Angie said...

"by the details" obviously. Hmph, some editor...

JJ said...

Oh Angie, knicker twisting! I love it. Thank god for the 100 words, honestly ... because I can do that! Anyway, I hope all's well with you too. Now I've had my lunch, and I'm going to finish my words. Thanks m'dear.

Lane said...

499 words! I think this method seems to be really working for you.

I did very little research during my first draft. Just made it all up and now I'm having to spend time sorting things out. Also didn't lay out the mss properly so perhaps it's better to do it as you go along (as you're doing).

Just keep going. I love seeing everyone tick 'done' on Helen's blog:-)

Yvonne said...

I'm a research gal too, spent nearly a month getting to know the characters, their motivation, layouts of areas etc, and I was still working those details out as I was writing. Obviously with ten short stories and 30+ characters I felt it was important to get it all straight in my head, but I would have done it with a standard novel too. I don't think there's anything wrong with it.

Pacha said...

I really don't think I can give you any decent advice (that would be valid) because I am in such a flap over my writing and am no authority on the matter whatsoever.

However, I'd agree with Lane -having written a novel without paying attention to 'details' and structure etc then literally crying (such a drawn out method) as I tried to tidy it up/make sense of it all/force structure/edit/inject details into the novel afterwards.

However, I wouldn't stop and worry if it means you're going to stop writing..

I don't make sense. But I KNOW I don't make sense - so that makes all the difference, doesn't it?

JJ said...

Lane, thanks honey. It's wonderful looking at the Dones, isn't it? I go and look just to gaze... how sad?

Yvonne, I guess my problem is to do with knowing when I'm researching to avoid writing... but I know the research is something I enjoy. Husband pointed out that if I'm writing 100 or so words in the morning - I can research details in the afternoon!

Pacha, Oh honey, I'm sorry you're in a flap; I so understand. 100 words approach is keeping me on the edge of non flapping... just. It's reassuring to hear you say that it might be better to fix some of these details as you go, not leave it all to the 'next' edit. Doing the layout right first time is easy if you know how to do it right ... I'm going off to look (again) now!

SueG said...

I think it's true that everyone's process is different. You're clearly onto something now, though, that's working for you. As far as research goes, I find I need to do it as early as possible. So I research what I know I'll need right at the start of writing, but inevitably something turns up in the middle that I know nothing about and then -- boom -- I'm researching again. It's a bit of fit and starts, but as I was told long ago, anything that moves the ball forward (is that an American football metaphor?) is progress, whether it's reading, writing, thinking, whatever. It all has to be done before you send off the final manuscript, so whatever the day presents you with.....(Now, when I finally get back to writing next month, promise me you'll remind me of all these pearls of wisdom, because my knickers will certainly get twisted. I can already feel them starting to get bunched up now) :-D

Carol and Chris said...

I have no words of wisdom for you honey (No surprise there then!!) but I do have a question....what the hell are/is ms? Then to add to my Lane mentioned mss (She added another s!!).

Please explain

Confused in Bangkok (Otherwise known as C x)

Carol and Chris said...

Erm, that should have been

Then to add to my confusion Lane mentioned mss (She added another s!!).

I think I need to go and get a cup of tea...this is what happens when I try to comment prior to having caffeine!!

C x

Debs said...

I've researched and then written and also written to get the story down and then redrafted to make sure all the details were correct and the latter suited me best.

Also I found that even though I thought I knew my characters at the beginning, by the end I knew them far better and it helped when I had to redraft and make sure everything was in the right place.

I say this but I'm still battling a bit so it's probably not wise to listen to anything I tell you. x