Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Writing Life: Class Progress - Part Two

I'm supposed to be writing now, you know, working on my novel but I've been screwing off this evening so I'll further indulge myself by writing this post.  I already frittered away the evening by getting the photos from my Zion trip ready for public viewing.  Who knows, I may email one of my classmates after this blog post is done if my brain continues to rebel.

Nah, I won't do that.  What I'm going to do after this post is published is write.  What I mean by that is I'm going to work on my class novel (this blog post doesn't really count towards my daily quota).  And the reason why is because I have been writing everyday (except this past Sunday when we were hiking the Narrows at Zion) and this habit has ingrained itself into my psyche.

Write everyday, man.  Produce.  It's becoming my new motto.  Write even if I'm sitting in the back of the car, as we scream down I-5 en route to Vegas and then onto Zion National Park.  Write even though I'm crammed in with all the camping gear, luggage, pillows, etc. and there's barely any elbow room.  Write even though it's night at the campsite and everyone else is sitting around the picnic table having a lovely dinner.  I'm eating too but I'm apart from everyone because I have to "work."  The stars are ablaze overhead and the moon has not yet come up.  And still I have my eyes fixed to my Galaxy Tab while they indulge in conversation.

Write no matter what.

We are little more than halfway through the class and my critiques are getting ever more detailed and elaborate.  I don't think this is a good thing though one of my classmates assures me that it is.  I just keep finding more and more things to suggest about sentence structure, first lines, story structure, transitions, characters, etc.  And if someone asks me to answer questions about the story, like one person did, then God help them I'm off on a whole new page of commentary.  I had to force myself to keep the comments to one page.  I think I moved the margins and went down a font size in an attempt to look like I wasn't babbling on.   So fucking embarrassing.

Thing is, going to such measures is a lot of work.  I have to be in the right frame of mind and ready to put pen to paper.  I have to have a large block of time because I do it all in one go so I can keep the story fresh in my mind.  And I have to think, and reach, and keep digging to find more stuff to pull out of myself that might have some use to the writer.

All this effort is making my own writing better.   And I know my long winded critiques are helping at least one student.  And my teacher tells me I'm getting good at picking apart stories.

Rest assured I'm not making all this effort for the other writers in my class.  I'm doing it for me.  I know that if I put an enormous amount of effort into this shit then the benefits will come back to me a thousand-fold.  Or at least ten-fold.  Something like that.

My ability to produce a story quickly out of thin air is getting easier.  Whether the story is any good is a whole other thing.  I'm getting the idea that the novel I'm working on for this class isn't going in the right direction and I'm going to have to completely rewrite it.  Though this can be disconcerting, it's actually huge progress on my part.  Most of the time I get through the entire first draft before I discover the story isn't right and then I sit there wringing my hands wondering what the hell to do next.

I can skip the wringing hands part this time because I know what I need to do.  Progress.

Though all of these things are good, I'm expected to make a contribution to our class anthology Portion Control and I have no idea what I'm going to contribute.  I'm inwardly balking at the idea of including an excerpt of my class novel.  It's going to have to be something else.  Christ, how am I going to pull that off?

Yeah, I did say I can produce quickly but...well, I guess we are going to see just how quickly in the next couple of weeks.
Even with all my bellyaching, this class is one of the best things to happen to me in my writing life.  I'm seeing myself getting better and better, hands getting dirty, ink stains everywhere.  And good habits being developed besides.

I jokingly told my instructor when he was done with me I was going to be carved out of wood.  I was kidding but now I'm sure that statement is true.

Time to work.  On my class novel.  Not on the email to my classmate.

P.S.  Wow, I barely had to edit this post.  I guess I am getting better.

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