Blissfully Ignorant Versus Seasoned Veteran

Blissfully Ignorant Versus Seasoned Veteran

When I first got into this writing racket – the blissfully ignorant stage – there were plenty of moments when I embraced my keyboard and my fingers would fly. “Writing Hot” was what I called it, and it came with a wonderful high. I quickly learned, however, that most of my pages back then were garbage, so I started learning craft. Character archetypes, code of story, conflict, dialogue, emotional resonance, flashback, formatting, grammar, hooks, introspection, motivation, narrative, pacing, plotting, POV, story and character logic, tactile detail, tone, voice – the list seemed endless. But I was nothing if not persistent in learning and then incorporating these lessons into my prose. So now I’m a seasoned veteran, but surprisingly most of my pages are still garbage. Huh? How can that be?

Trash can2Before I can attempt to answer that burning question, I feel I must first clarify the term “garbage”. Garbage in the blissfully ignorant stage might best be categorized as illiterate, whereas garbage in the seasoned veteran stage is, in a nutshell, overworked.  So what then is the next stage of development in the life of a writer that can eliminate the word garbage, in any definition, from use when describing manuscript pages? In fairness, I can only speculate as I have not personally reached this elusive stage, but I have surmised that it involves combining blissfulness with craft knowledge.

Okay . . . so what exactly is my plan for accomplishing this? I’ve decided I need to push my inner editor into the background and let my youthful exuberance back out of the genie bottle. It’s time I trust – and I mean really trust – that the Girls in the Basement will do their job and subconsciously guide my fingers in both storytelling and craft as they once again fly with abandon across the keyboard. And what better platform for this exercise than participating in a Book in a Month write-a-thon? Perhaps by the beginning of next month, I will not only have a completed first draft (of my second draft), but I will have entered the next stage in my writing life – that of a professional novelist. Keep you posted.

For those interested in BIAM (Book in a Month) you can participate twice a year by friending Anne-Marie Kolaski Novark on FB  or contacting her at,  Anne Marie’s April Madness/October Obsession BIAM Writathons

 

Lorinda Peake

Lorinda Peake wrote her first ditty when she was ten on an English seashore while visiting her British grandmother. From then on, her family either acted in or were treated to plays, skits, or commercial spoofs. In school, she wrote poetry, fables and short stories.

Years later, she tossed down a particularly bad novel and thought, “I could do at least that well.” She’s been pursuing the elusive published novel ever since. Recently, she joined a group of fellow writers who decided to cajole, bully, encourage, and sometimes baby each other along towards the publishing goal by setting real and measurable writing objectives with “motivational” consequences for non-attainment.

Lorinda loves a good romance – all the more if it is wrapped in a great fantasy setting. She lives on the Texas Gulf Coast with her husband of 34 years.

12 thoughts on “Blissfully Ignorant Versus Seasoned Veteran

  1. Not being a writer myself I found some of the technical terms went over my head. However I thought your blog was well written and I loved the humor. Keep up the good work, Lorinda – I shall be watching 🙂

    1. Thanks for your comment. “Watching” (a.k.a. accountability) is the primary purpose of this blog – so watch away, Mummy. You know better than most how much I need that. ;o)

  2. I have always admired your tenacity over the years when it comes to your writing. Most of us would just give up but not you! You are doing what you love and that is so cool. Can’t wait to see what happens with the Book a Month program. Fingers crossed!

    1. Ah yes, in my blissfully ignorant stage I thought this writing gig would be so easy. So is it tenacity or pigheadedness? Hee hee! Book in a Month is over in a few days, but I stopped last week because I needed to get a handle on my plot. Even better I’m just starting back with a regular critique group and that will end up being far more productive. But Book in a Month did net me over 17,000 words, so I have a damn good start.

  3. Insightful comment about “garbage” being “overworked” for a seasoned writer. I think that’s very true. I suspect that happens when our Editor starts talking more loudly than the Girls in the Basement.

    I’m a HUGE fan of trusting the Girls in the Basement to guide the story line, the character development, the images, and even the sensory details. They nearly always surprise me with what they pop up on the page when my brain is out of the way.

    But one thing my Girls are not good at is pacing. I usually have to reread the scene or the chapter to give my Editor a chance to point out that issue. The Girls might suggest a scene or a direction the characters take within the scene, but they keep mum on the overall arc or flow. Interesting.

    After writing for so many years, I’ve found that I’ve internalized quite a bit of craft. Some aspects have become second nature to me and I hardly think about them. I’m at a point now where I’m trying out new things in the writing: Can I write a sweet story line where there’s no Big Bad Guy helping drive the action? Can I write as lyrically and poetically as I like without readers puking?

    It’s all experimentation on some level. And for me, to ever think “I’ve got this” is to be profoundly confused about the act of writing, which is always about discovery.

  4. I freely admit to being more of a literal kinda gal than one who easily embraces life’s more ethereal concepts. By and large, editing is labor steeped in the real with literal rules, whereas the Girls lack tangibility and are esoteric in nature. While it was true that these muses freely contributed to my prose back in my Blissful days, they were unknown to me then. Now that I do know who they are, purposely trusting them is a much harder proposition. And therein lies my current “discovery”.

  5. Blissful ignorance – when you first threw down that book and thought, I can write better than that! Well, even in the ‘early garbage’ stage, YOU DID and you still DO! You are your own worse critic. The ‘garbage’ your produce today is garbage only in your own eyes. Every thing we do – in every aspect of our life – can be improved with more time. But time is the elusive commodity that turns into an enemy when you overwork your words. I was a “C” student in school and all The Rules still baffle me – but I love telling stories. It’s your love of story, your unique voice, that makes your words sing! Why is that fifty people can tell you something is good – but the only one we ‘hear’ is the guy in the back saying negative things. Your words remind me a favorite quote from Lorne Michaels, producer of Saturday Night Live since 1975: “The show doesn’t go on because it’s ready, the show goes on because it’s ten o’clock.” Unlike a live television broadcast, we don’t have a ‘zero hour’ – and that’s to bad, because I believe that would keep us (read YOU) from massaging your very excellent original words into what you proclaim as garbage.

    1. “The Rules,” aka grammar, punctuation and spelling, are the easy fixes. If your brain simply won’t absorb and retain the how-to’s, you can beg, borrow, or pay for these services. What you can’t pay for is the ability to create/tell a good story. This is the art in our craft.

      So if you want to worry or work on an aspect of your art, indulge in story arc, character development, motivation, pacing, etc., but in all honesty, as writers, we are also avid readers, and as readers, we’ve got all those elements ingrained in our storytelling. Once again, the key is TRUST.

      1. See comment below. Trust – argh – its a bitch. But I’m trying, really I am. But in my mind, this is not something that you can force to happen. It’s like love itself – its either there or it isn’t. But I do believe both can come with time.

    2. My husband once used a golf analogy to basically say – just play the damn game. But I told him that I don’t just want to shoot in the 90’s, I want to play scratch golf or better.

  6. Yes, those blissfully ignorant days were wonderful. (HUGE HINT: Blissful) But these more veteran days have some good points, as well. For instance, now when you do something with purpose and intent, you have the skill sets to know what you’ve done is good, and WHY. At the same time, those skills will allow you to recognize what doesn’t work and fix it.

    The important part here is trust. Trust the Girls. Trust your critique partners. But most of all, trust yourself.

    1. I won’t lie, doing something purposefully (instead of by accident) is infinitely more satisfying. It’s the whole trust thing I struggle with.

Comments are closed.

Comments are closed.
%d bloggers like this: