photo by Sheri Dixon

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Making Shit Up

I love to write.

I've always loved to write.

Words are magical, wondrous things and threaded together carefully and artfully they weave thoughts and dreams into the cloth that becomes the wardrobe of our imaginations.

Just by chance, the things that I've written tend to be real, and experiential and concise.

School newspaper, local newspaper, articles for a website, journal entries, blog.

Very much "where, what, when, how and who in 3,000 words or less" sort of writing.

'CancerDance- a love story' is journal entries and blog posts with a few chapters tacked to the beginning. Don't get me wrong; the format makes it much more visceral than simple prose would be.

'Easterchicks Gone Bad' is a collection of articles written over the course of 5 years that are all put into one volume.

Both of these are about real stuff. Reporting, as it were.

'Almost Invisible- a different kind of survival story' was my first foray into fiction, and it scared me to death. Not just the fiction aspect of it, but making a whole BOOK aspect- everything in me is trained to take a subject, circle around it, dive in, rip the heart out of it and set it to words...condensed and descriptive yet complete.

I wrote that little 100 page book one chapter at a time, one a night till it ended- and till it ended even *I* didn't know how it would end.

I was lamenting my current state of discouragement with my writing life in general and a dear friend...lets call her 'Audra', said, "You write for the love of writing and because you have people in your head that will drive you crazy if you don't let them out."

And therein lies the Rub.

My head? Empty.

There are no people in it.

The characters in 'Almost Invisible' were the first time that had ever happened to me in over 50 years. And so far, the last.

So I've got what I believe is a pretty good concept for what I'm doing now, and I've got it laid out in my head (and on paper as well because I'm old) and I'm fully engaged in the entire project.

The people in the book? Elusive as Bigfoot.

Audra writes fabulous characters who apparently hatch between her ears and gain form through her computer keys; and they leap off the pages of her book full of life and passion.

Joe, too- sits down to write and his stories appear on his computer chock full of people who come with their own histories and quirks and humanity. He admits that he has no idea how a book will go till it's done. "Beats the shit outta ME", he'll say when asked why a story takes the turn that it does.

The part of writing he finds tedious is the editing and spell-checking, but the story parts just flow.

I'm in awe of such gifts.

Having only dealt in non-fiction my entire life, it was pretty easy to think, "Fiction? What's so difficult about THAT? All you gotta do is make shit up".

Now I know.

Now I sit at my computer mentally drawing and crumpling up character after character in my head till I sketch one up that fills the need of the story.

I'll type it all up and think, "THERE! I've finished the first section", then look at my page count. Twelve. Twelve pages.

Dumbfounded, I think, "What the hell? I've said all that needs said here and it's only twelve pages??? That will not a book make".

So painstakingly, line by line and paragraph by paragraph I go through it again. I read each tiny section, pause, close my eyes and think, "MORE".

I elaborate, describe, add background and depth and read it again.


Over and over and over again.

It's unarguably the hardest work I've ever done regarding words.

I believe it's good for me.

I believe I'll come out the other side a better writer, and I believe I'll be proud of the finished product both in content and quality.

Will anyone read it?

Beats the hell outta me.

But Audra says that's not what I'm doing it for, and she's never lied to me.

1 comment:

  1. :) You will come out the other side better and in the meantime, you are writing the story you want to tell and to hell with anything else.

    As far as characters, make sure you are leaving the door to your mind unlocked so they can get in. I never had characters show up until I unlocked that part of my mind.

    Then, not only did the characters for Embers show up, a bunch of others for other books did too. In fact, it's starting to get a bit crowded inside my head what with all of the me's in there too.

    So I can tell you, your character is there, you either just haven't found him/her yet (sometimes they turn the wrong direction when they come into and you have to figure where in the halls of your mind they have wandered off to. Or you forgot to unlock the door so they can get it. I have found that they won't knock. They will just stand around on the doorstep waiting quietly to be let in until you unlock that door.