A friend recently posted a whole list of reasons that Writers are crazy, and I found myself reading them and sounding like Empress Nympho picking her escorts in History of the World Part 1. I don’t think writers are all that crazy, in reality, and I don’t like anything that tries to make them seem that way, particularly the sense that authors tend to give themselves. I also have a serious dislike of people who tell you about something wacky that happened to them (as wacky things happen to all of us) and then say, “My LIFE, you guys, MY LIFE.”
And before you get all uppity about be hating, just realize that I am guilty of that also.
Anyway, this curmudgeonly post is neither here nor there. I have written before about why I don’t like to write about my writing process. I’m not good at explaining it, which seems to be a fatal flaw in a writer, I guess. And a lot of it is feel for me, which is a horribly unprofessional and faux-artiste way to say it as well, and so I don’t like to do that either. This is part of the reason I don’t read others’ explanations for writing, nor do I like to read books about writing. A bunch of my friends like Stephen King’s On Writing, and I am sure it’s awesome, but I just can’t take it seriously. Maybe if I had specific questions, I might look something up.
This isn’t to say that I don’t skim things when they come across my desk. I would feel like more of an unprofessional wastrel if I didn’t. Writers, for the most part seem to love talking about HOW they write (much like I am about to do). It’s our version of talking about covers for TPS reports or something. Imagine a bunch of life insurance salesmen at a convention talking animatedly about term life insurance, incidentally they are all three mai-tais in, and they are wasted. Imagine how boring that might be to you if you aren’t a life insurance salesman. This is what happens when you are the only non-writer in a room full of writers.
And because of this, I have concluded that I am not a writer. Hah. One mai-tai, please.
And as a postclaimer, I say this as the person who live tweeted Aaron Allston’s Dragon*Con panel on writing as a caustic sarcastic person. And I LOVE Aaron Allston, both as a person (what little I know of him) and as a writer. I respect his craft, and I love his ability to write with others inside an amazingly complex pre-set universe. BUT I just can’t sit in the room with the life insurance salesmen. All my complimentary drink cards were confiscated.
ANYWAY, I want to be a writer. I want to be able to communicate in terms like “scrivner” and uhm, denouement, and “plot”. “OUTLINING”. There, I said it. This morning, a friend of mine announced that she wanted to write something longer and more complicated than the porn she usually writes (and which, by the way, is FABULOUS), and she asked a list of us, most of us writers of some form or another, how we went about doing that.
Everyone offered their input, and I remember reading most of it, but I already knew most of their techniques, so I was not irritated. Then I submitted mine:
Here’s my outline of the thing I’m working on:
she’d been drinking too much egg nog.
the sweater must die
there you go.
Seriously, that is my current plan for the 35K story I’m writing for Carina Press. Later I amended my reply to this:
First I sit down and write down all the snatches of scenes that are plaguing me. A lot of time that helps me fill in the outline.
THEN, I start to make a structures list. I hate outlining, so I just make a list of scenes, as I want them to happen. Sometimes that helps me figure out about the transitional scenes that I want to stick in between (you know, like, you want to frame the [spoiler] story in flash forwards and backwards, so it might help to make a list of the chronological [spoiler] scenario, then wedge each transitional scene in between those scenes?).
THEN I start writing. Sometimes the outline isn’t done yet, and as I go on, I think of how I want the story to end. A lot of times, I find something I write as an offhand comment in a later scene makes me go back and fill in other plot points differently. I’m not a linear writer.
I MIGHT finish my outline, but I notice that I always have the ending written before I finish the middle of a story, so when I look at the paper list that I have scratched out, it always peters off in the middle and lower half of the story. I have them all tucked away, and they always look like:
[tonnes of crap]
[lesser tonnes of crap]
[PROFIT! I usually don’t write the ending down on paper because I do it on the computer before I have time to update the paper copy]
That is my writing process. It makes life difficult, but it works for me most of the time.
So there you have it. Looking back on my archived tags in my journal, I apparently talk about writing a lot, so that makes me one of those insurance salesmen who doesn’t know he is one. That’s the mai-tais talking. Have you thought about your funeral plans lately?
I love quick time harch.