Monday, November 01, 2010

Things to Think About While Staring at the Ceiling

Deadlines do get you off the pot. The lack of mercy in editing is like a death of many small cuts. I am hoping that if I write enough and read the dictionary each night before I go to sleep, the words will spew out in a more perfect form, requiring less editing, but I doubt it. Everything in life has its dual, the Ying-Yang of it all. Editing is the evil twin of writing. It is inescapable. And that’s just the grammatical, technical side. Editing for logic, content, and dramatic effect – well, I don’t even have a clue about that. I just write what sounds good to me at the time. If I improve over time, it will reflect some kind a personal maturity, but maturity has a dark side – you lose you ability to be innocent. I am a verbal improviser, like a jazz man, playing his heart out in hopes of reaching out to someone with a riff they can dig. I will probably never write anything significant, but it will be fun to read.

The old adage of “You must be a good reader to be a good writer” makes sense, but who has the time. I do read in the background, but there are so many distractions, I don’t really make the time to be a studied reader. I have a limited repertoire of literature on the shelf. If I have time, I write instead. One area I find inspiring is short stories. They are little capsules of joy. You can get the whole plot in one mouthful. If I get writer’s block on a novel-sized project, I back off and write a short story. It seems to refresh the air and gives me a breather. Then it is easier to get back to business.

One of the curiosities of reading deeply about the subjects you plan to write about is the idea of bleeding someone else’s ideas into your own story. I live in fear of doing that, because my short term memory isn’t all that great and I am a great mimicker. There are whole species of birds that do just what I do. The last thing I want to happen is have a chunk of a project have to be rewritten because I unconsciously scribbled a bunch of ideas from someone else’s book into my plot. Have you ever caught yourself doing that?

Well, the chances are lower than you think. We are all built differently so the randomness of our interpretations protect us, but taking a great idea and revamping it into your own interpretation, well that’s a virtue not a sin. Even Einstein said it, “If I can see over the wall, is because I stand on the shoulders of giants” or some nonsense like that. You’ll have to look it up. I’m too lazy.

While I look at the ceiling, slumber finally reaches me. Maybe tomorrow I will write the perfect novel.

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