Linearity

So, following my resolution to write scenes rather than linear chapter-based writing, I wrote most of a chapter today. though to be fair, it’s also a scene that I knew would happen. more or less. it’s almost always different on the page than it is in my head, and that is frustrating, because while I know what was in my head makes sense to me, I don’t know if it’s the same once I write it down. I guess that’s the advantage of firsthand perspective, having your own nuances of thought and pathology already encoded into the way you think and assume and perceive and project and to not have to decipher yourself before you know what it is you’re thinking or intending.

other than those pesky teen years of course.

I have to admit, writing in a series of isolated scenes that don’t link up with a linear narrative right from the start is an idea that I constantly dismiss whenever it comes to mind, because it just seems so un-intuitive. or, more specifically, it doesn’t feel like ‘writing’. ‘writing’ to me is all about storytelling – doing little stand-alone scenes, whether or not they’re meant to link up later on down the track, feels like a warm-up exercise rather than the real thing. I guess the other thing is that the scenes I have in mind are, well, in mind, and writing them down doesn’t feel like it helps me very much – it feels like a distraction. I guess that’s just how I’ve conditioned myself to write; I always go from point A to point B, and only once I’ve reached point B may I continue to point C, and so on and so forth; and it’s not that this is something that I never deviate from, because I have written a lot of stand-alone scenes of ideas for stories that I’ve had – it’s just that, when I’m ‘writing something’, I automatically set out to write whatever it is from start to finish, in a line. it’s no wonder I get lost along the way.

with this draft as well, I just feel like writing isolated scenes would interrupt what momentum I have managed to get back other the past few days. it is something I’ll try and incorporate into future drafting sessions, though, because I do think it’s a good idea. warming up is essential to any exercise, after all – I can see the appeal of doing this as a pre-draft process, getting everything that is clearly thought-out down on paper. even if it’s just a few lines, a summary, a frenetic rant, whatever; making preliminary notes (and continuing to make notes throughout the draft) is very useful when embarking on a draft. and come to think of it, I did do that, so I guess I’m doing okay …

but I feel good about today’s writing. because finally I’ve gotten to the part of the draft where it feels like the story can literally do nothing else but fall into place. I’ve gotten though the muddly bit at the start – the first half; I’ve decided that I’m going to extend the word limit a second time and go up to 120k words – but now I’ve got a pretty smooth ride from this point. all I have to do is write the rest of the draft. but it feels like the story is now locked down, because of the point I’ve gotten up to in the draft, which is a ridiculously good feeling; it feels like I would have to actually go out of my way to mess things up, because from this point on I actually have a pretty good idea of what I want to happen, and how I want it to happen, and in what order, and all that incredibly ideal stuff you would want when writing a draft of a book. sure, you’d want it from the start, rather than halfway through, but the thing is that as long as it happens it’s still good. plus this is only the first draft. who knows how much longer writing this book is actually going to take.

well, having said that, I haven’t finished the chapter yet. but I know how it’s going to end. it’s a scene – well, a scenario – that I’ve had in mind for a while now; I don’t know if it’s going to work, or if it’ll make it into the final draft, but seriously, if … certain people … can get book deals writing the kinds of things they write, I’m sure I’m in with a fighting chance. and anyway, this whole book is one huge existential, gendered struggle for me anyway. I keep saying that I have no idea what I’m talking about; it’s not true – it’s just that I don’t know if what I know has any relevance to other people who fit into the demographics of the characters I’m writing about. I know what I’m doing like people before Christopher Columbus knew the world was flat (though apparently somebody worked it out long before Columbus, in Greece, which figures) – and then some stuff I’m just sort of throwing it out there and hoping it sticks to something validating. it’s fun. it feels like I’m trying to make something work, which I am, rather than just going through some sequence of pre-determined motions.

back to that chapter, then.

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