Saturday, June 27, 2009

Random Points

Donis does Saturday.

I had another one of those days in which my routine was all knocked into a cocked hat.  I had to be off about business ASAP after I got up, and wasn’t able to ease into my day in my usual leisurely manner.  I’m not complaining, because I think that the shake-up is good for me.  It’s not good for my brain to be in a rut.  However, I do very much miss it when I’m unable to do my crossword puzzle.  Usually, I get up, go through the usual beautification process, then make breakfast and spend a leisurely hour drinking coffee and working the crossword.  Afterwards, my brain is lubricated, I am overflowing with words, and raring to write.

John’s Thursday post did a wonderful job of showing the rewriting process.  His William Stafford quote about writer’s block being nothing more than not being able to lower your expectations is right on the money.  If you think you can’t move on until you perfect the sentence/scene/chapter you’re on, you are never going to finish. If you’re stuck, put something down, some reminder, or thought, a place-filler, or just a blank.  Those great philosophers, Click and Clack, The Tappet Brothers, once said that even Gandhi drove like a maniac when he was sixteen.  Allow me to modify that thought and say that even Shakespeare’s first draft looked like the dog’s dinner.  I live by this philosophy, especially lately, wherein I am not only not bringing my A game when I sit down to write, I’m not even up to my W game, half the time.  But you must plug on.  Later, you go back and make your sentence/scene/chapter better, as John illustrated. Then you go back and do it again. And again. I think that most authors are never really satisfied with what they’ve created.  As for me, I’ll tinker with a book until I absolutely have to turn it in for the last time.  Years after the book is published, I’ll find myself coming up with fresh ideas for a scene and wishing I could go back and work on it some more. 

I must say that I was quite intrigued by Charles’ post about the mental landscape.  I have always thought that one is very much affected by landscape, but I’ve never considered the idea that your very thinking patterns might be formed by the geography you grew up in. Which apparently they aren’t. However, I have observed that people are happier in some places than others, possibly due to where they grew up.  My husband was raised on the wide-open Great Plains, and becomes claustrophobic in  heavily wooded country. A friend from the Ozark Mountains once told me that she loves the woods.  She feels protected and secure in wooded country, and exposed and vulnerable on a treeless plain.  Many a city-raised person is disoriented in the wilderness, and vice-versa for someone who grew up in the country.  It’s what you’re familiar with, I suppose.  I read a piece in the newspaper several years ago about an unusually long period of sunshine in Iceland, which is normally has a cloud cover for some 300 days a year.  An interviewee said that the clear sky was nice at first, but after a week, she was beginning to feel nervous and unhappy.  I’m sure there is a story idea lurking in there somewhere.

One final word on character:  I’m currently reading a well-known book by a Very Famous Author.  The mystery is quite interesting, and the writing is excellent.  Very Famous Author really knows how to invoke a setting and construct a plot.  The characters are well drawn, but they are all so unpleasant that even though I’d really like to know how the story is going to turn out, I don’t know if I can finish the book.  I think I’m going to have to skim through just enough to get the gist and then read the end.

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