How Do I Write

I took a course once some years ago, just before we left St. Thomas, and for a year or so after we first settled in Haliburton, and I think in some ways it was more of a distraction than anything else.

What do I mean by that? Let me see if I can explain it.

I know that technically, I benefitted from the course, but therein lies the rub, as they say. Doing the technicalities, the grammar, the metaphors, the mechanics of story construction right became a distraction which I haven’t yet been able to overcome.

Shit.

Yes, I said shit.

Word recognizes shit as a word, doesn’t attempt to correct the spelling or tell me there is no such word. So, shit again.

I spend more time worrying about getting the story right, than writing it, if that makes any sense. It does to me. It means I seem to have misplaced the art of focusing on the story and letting the editor’s hat sit on a shelf somewhere out of sight. Write the damn thing, as I’ve been saying over and over.

I have been reading a lot about that lately as well, on line via various blogs I follow that pertain to writing. It ties in with the whole simplifying theme, de-cluttering theme I am trying to achieve.

When I first sat down with the ‘I can write’ thing, I had a typewriter and a desk and an idea. I fed paper into the machine and went for it. I had no clue about pacing, about character development, about creating tension, although I did have some awareness of foreshadowing and the use of metaphors. I was unaware of the concept of beginning, middle and end. I did not know about denouement, was not familiar with the word or its meaning.

As a result, I just wrote, my fingers, the little darlings, flying across the keyboard, the pages growing like still-living trees out of the typewriter. I found a voice and a comfort zone and didn’t worry or question the quality—in short, I was focused on the story.

I didn’t even have an outline.

I did know, however about where the story was going. I had, in my mind (didn’t occur to me to write it down) a short description of the plot, the sort of paragraph or two you see on the back of a paperback which tells you something about what the story is about. So I guess you could say that I did know about beginning, middle, end, even though I couldn’t and didn’t put it in so many words

Now that I’m older and wiser, I have lost that naivety, I get bogged down in the details or what I call the mechanics of writing. It does take some of the easy breezy breath away, leaves me in mid sentence wondering if this is correct, have I created enough tension, is it in character, does it pick up a prior scene, or set up the next one, and so on and so forth.

Who cares. This is raw writing, first draft, prequel to first draft, pre-edited, creative zone, non-linear stuff. It does not need an editor. That’s why the pundits recommend a simple text editor that cannot spell for writing—or at least turning all those features off during a first write.

Write the damn thing. The first draft is the outline.

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