Friday, January 11, 2008
Guess what I had forgotten?
Fiction writing is fun!
Guess what else I discovered?
I am very rusty. It has been a long time since I let my imagination be free. My brain is so used to multitasking with the small people and trying to keep five thoughts active at the same time that sitting down and focusing on one thing, one story, with no other demands felt really weird. But weird in a good way. Hopefully this regular Friday time will make me more able to turn on the writing mind when I have less time during the week.
So today I started working what I've laid out as my goal: by year's end, I'd like to have written a fairly complete draft of a YA (or children's) novel.
I'm proud of myself in that I didn't let myself get distracted by my surroundings--the house is still a sty, there isn't anything in the house for dinner tonight, my legs have not received the exercise that they really want (and they are getting a little twitchy now), and I haven't been reading all the wonderful blogs I follow.
What I did do was have a grand time naming characters, describing locations, outlining the movement of the plot and planning significant scenes, and doing some character studies.
But perhaps the biggest thing I did today was I gave myself permission to fuck up and make a royal mess of it. There is nothing more stifling than overvaluing your own labor. God knows that I'm not a perfectionist in other areas of my life, but perhaps because I read so much and am so used to cohesive, finished stories, it has been difficult for me to picture a novel as starting out messily. As soon as I told myself that what I write down can be flawed because it is a draft and there will be plenty of time for changes later, the words, ideas, and images started to flow. For all I know, next week I'll think up an even better idea for a novel and I'll chuck everything I wrote today. And that'll be ok because I've decided I am going to enjoy the process, and value all of it, not just the parts that end up in the final product.
Anyone read any of them? Are they any good?
MAN GONE DOWN
By Michael Thomas. This first novel explores the fragmented personal histories behind four desperate days in a black writer’s life.
OUT STEALING HORSES
By Per Petterson. Translated by Anne Born. In this short yet spacious Norwegian novel, an Oslo professional hopes to cure his loneliness with a plunge into solitude.
THE SAVAGE DETECTIVES
By Roberto Bolaño. Translated by Natasha Wimmer. A craftily autobiographical novel about a band of literary guerrillas.
THEN WE CAME TO THE END
By Joshua Ferris. Layoff notices fly in Ferris’s acidly funny first novel, set in a white-collar office in the wake of the dot-com debacle.
TREE OF SMOKE
By Denis Johnson. The author of “Jesus’ Son” offers a soulful novel about the travails of a large cast of characters during the Vietnam War.
Monday, January 07, 2008
Any surprises in your stockings that you want to share?