Silly Rabbit

Silly Rabbit

Silly RabbitTwo writing lessons I’ve struggled with as I’ve moved through one complete WoC (Write or Consequences) challenge (ending in an ice bath), and almost through a second challenge (I’m on track to meet this goal – although an ice bath in the middle of a Texas summer might not be as bad as one in February ;o).

The first lesson has been learning to trust “The Girls” – writer’s parlance for the “muses”, and the second has been learning to let go of my inner editor. See my April 27, 2015 blog Blissfully Ignorant versus Seasoned Veteran.

Attacking my second writing lesson has been far more difficult than the first. Why? Hell, girl and boys, I’ve been in this racket for more years than I care to admit, and by this time, so I tell myself, I should be able to crank out some pretty clean pages. And to that aim, I spend an enormous amount time “prettying” up my prose. And what is the end result of that exercise? Omniscient POV, too much narrative, stiff dialogue, telling not showing. Yep, a pretty impressive list of what NOT to do. Isn’t that peachy?

Letting go of your inner editor – those are just words. And in a world dominated by words, they are easier said than done. I did make remarkable progress by participating in  BIAM (Book in a Month). If I’m in the right place come October, I fully intend to participate again. However, it’s all that in between time that has been kicking my butt.

I once took a class by Sam Havens, Professor Emeritus at the University of St. Thomas here in Houston, and he said you have to learn to write drunk. No, not literally (although I’m sure he did not rule that out). What he meant is let go of the rules and let the words flow. And get over your egomaniacal self that simply can’t stand the idea of turning in something less than stellar.

And what is the end result of that exercise? Crappy prose to be sure, but an environment rich for the The Girls to cast their magic – emotional resonance, paradox, juxtaposition, and if you’re lucky maybe some cool plot twists. So what if every sentence starts with she? So what if you’re missing some dialogue tags? So what if there ain’t a transition or a hook in sight. Silly Rabbit, that’s what second drafts are for.

 

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.

10 thoughts on “Silly Rabbit

  1. I totally get where you’re coming from.

    I just watched a webinar today in which a therapist essentially said, “Here’s how to get out of your own way.” Start from a position of loving your work and loving the writing process. Tell yourself that your audience will go bonkers for your story, and that your writing will be wonderful.

    It’s not too far away from a blog post I wrote some time ago about the story I tell myself about my own work. But this was taking it to another level!

    She did mention constant revision as a practice that destroys our confidence because it spoils our belief in ourselves. Some judicious editing is needed, of course, but going over and over the same words in the same chapters in the same stories kills our sense of accomplishment and our sense of ourselves as writers.

    Write drunk, indeed! Write freely. Tell yourself that you love your story, and in time, you will.

    Great post, Lorinda.

  2. I wondered if anyone would pick up on the fact that a darn near teetotaler was going on about writing drunk. Hee hee. For me, since I don’t in fact drink, it’s about writing without inhibition. You know how I struggle to get that emotion on the page, eh? Bring on the bubbly!

    1. Lorinda: I snapped to that teetotaler thing right away. My first thought was, yeah, that might work, but she’d only have about seven minutes from first sip to nappy time!

      I’ve known you for nearly as long as both of us have been pursuing our writing (and we won’t put a number on that 🙂 ) and one thing I’ve learned about you is that you love to play with your words. And when you get to that “wordsmithing” stage, you don’t tend to over work your prose. You generally end up with vital, enticing, beautiful writing. BUT — when you combine creating with wordsmithing, you do tend to beat the life out of your sentences, more because you haven’t fully figured out what the story wants to say.

      So, I believe you should give yourself permission to just spew the story on the page. Get the gist of the plot out as quickly as possible. Then, once your story has begun to tell you what it wants to say, you can go back and happily spend hours and hours making it pretty without worrying about beating the life out of it!

      1. Yeah, I’m really trying to do that – create separately from wordsmithing. That’s why Book in a Month is a valuable exercise for me. Ah, but sometimes, I won’t lie, I do get caught up in the words.

        And I call exception. I can go a solid ten minutes from first sip to nappy time. Booyah!

  3. I have a swamp where my story ideas live. They sorta ferment in there, get chewed on by alligators and rearranged, and when they’re ready (I hope) come bubbling up to the top. There are no girls (sigh).

    But yeah, I get where you’re coming from, and I think that’s why I wrote (have written?) in longhand for so long, because it kind of automatically turns off that editor…

    1. Gail, I love your point about writing longhand. Even to this day, when I don’t know what’s going to happen, I always start with a pen and paper. Something about the time delay of writing vs the speed of typing lets my brain germinate better. Not to mention, I can take pen a paper outside and completely shift my entire process, whereas, I still can’t seem to find a laptop I can actually WORK on in sunlight!

    2. Ah, Gail – whether we call them The Girls or Swamps, Alligators, and Bubbles – it’s the muses. And what beautiful, magical, wonderful creatures they are.

      Will I see you Tuesday st the HBARWA meeting?

  4. Lorinda,

    Incase you no longer have it, would you like me to send you my fruit punch recipe ? !!!!!!!!!!!!! 🙂

    Mom

  5. Barbara – as witness to Lorinda’s enjoyment of your punch, I second her HECK NO! She damn near missed her own party she enjoyed that punch so much! She needs to stick to tea.
    Ann – You write the prettiest sentences of anyone I know. You words are lyrical and fun and easy to read. But, just because I can – I’m gonna ask the difficult question – HOW MANY OF THOSE AWESOME SENTENCES HAVE ENDED UP ON THE CUTTING ROOM FLOOR? Too many to count, is my guess. To that end, I encourage you to absolutely write drunk! THEN, when you have finished the first draft, and ONLY THEN – you get to play with the words.

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