Do you remember the journal entry that wouldn’t end? Lord, do I ever and I’d consider it a personal favor if you’d not bring it up. Again. EVER. Right back atcha. The reason I mention it now is that yesterday’s writing session triggered an epiphany. Oh yeah? What kind of epiphany? The kind that smacked me upside the head–like a Gibbs’ slap?–yeah, exactly like that and made me realize that writing is a lot like flying with your eyes closed. You don’t say? Yeah, smartass, I do.
Ooooh, fiesty this morning, aren’t we? Yeah, I am and I think I have every right to be. See, you and me we’ve been through a lot. True that. This road less traveled has had more than its fair share of bumps, potholes, and hitchhikers with opinions. Ugh, don’t get me started on all those opinions. Do this. Do that. Change your process. Shed your comfort zone. Change how you think. Let nature take its course. The problem is on the inside. No wait, it’s on the outside. No, it’s both. Which reminds me. I added alcoholism to your bucket list for the year.
So back to this epiphany… years ago during my first stint working as a COOP student, I landed a gig in a molecular biology lab playing with DNA. Shudder. I remember. All those mice. BTW, thanks for going to confession. Last thing I wanted was that many rodents on my conscience. Hey, I still have nightmares about that day one of the guys in the lab was holding a radioactive solution and had a seizure. That was messy. I’m just grateful no one got seriously hurt or grew an extra arm in a less than ideal location.
But anyway, back to the DNA schtick… I walked into that job with a rudimentary–but very thorough according to your school grades–knowledge of how DNA synthesizes and replicates. Not long after that the post docs in the lab decimated my scientific foundation by showing me how what I’d learned was a great model, but didn’t apply to real life situations. In a nutshell, everything I’d learned in school about DNA was wrong.
The post docs may have knocked down your wall of knowledge, but things weren’t totally lost. You did have good building blocks. True, but I had to stop and rebuild everything from scratch. To do that I had to recognize what was at the core of the situation. And that was…? Chemistry. Everything that happens to DNA is triggered by chemistry. That in turn is driven by supply and demand. On the cellular level.
Lovely story, but what does this have to do with writing and the journal entry that would (shudder) never end? Everything and nothing. I’m going to slap you. hehe, turn about is fair play. Smart ass. Get to the point. That is if you even have a point? I do and you’re gonna like it. I’ll be the judge of that.
The point is that it’s a system. A system that has a root control mechanism regulated by supply and demand of chemicals to the cell. This same system works on a single or multi-cellular level. So? I’m still waiting for the punchline.
Promises, promises. But here you go, oh impatient watcher of tea kettles… to get to where I’m at with writing, I had to go through where I’d been. Meaning…? That I had to knock down everything I had previously learned to find the solid blocks of my story craft foundation. Then I picked up the pieces and went back to the story ideas. So now I know and understand why characters do the things they do. Each book is its own system that operates under supply and demand–or in story craft terms, action and reaction.
That’s GREAT! I’m so proud of you and blah, blah, blah. But what does this have to do with writing being a lot like closing you eyes and flying?
Absolutely nothing. Grrrrr… (hehe, I love you, too, o’ subconscious mind o’ mine) but before you break out the Nerf whip and target my posterior… writing for me is more than just hammering out random words on the keyboard. It includes brainstorming, plotting, revision, and front loading all the threads of a series and emotions of the characters before I ever sit down to type. To some my process appears anal and obsessive.
It IS anal and OCD.
Whatever. But by the end of the front loading session, I know my system–or in this case, the story I’m working on. I know why (in the story) the dog barked at 3AM on the morning of the 2nd in the neighbor’s yard. The reader may never see it, but I know why and that’s what matters. Because it’s about becoming an SME (subject matter expert) for the stories I own. And yeah, I own them. Through and through. So much so that if I send a draft to a critique partner before the whole book is done and they supply some words of wisdom, I can tell you exactly why I ignore what I do, then set back, close my eyes and… embrace the feeling of flying while I write the manuscript.
Oh and one more thing… about that closing the eyes thing… according to learning styles my subconscious mind is visual so when I close my eyes… it’s like applying high quality duct tape to my overactive subconscious mind and her incessant chatterbox of an internal editor. Hey, I never said I wasn’t an evil imp of ill repute.
So now I’m tossing it out there to all my writer peep friends… how do you get your internal editor to shut off and embrace that feeling of flying while writing?