Monday, November 21, 2016

The Mutinous Crew: All Ashore.

The coracle became a schooner then coracle once more, scraping against distant sands. There are challenges, but luckily a journey to Hades nor escaping Calypso was involved. Still, I cannot wonder at the parallels between a writer's journey and Odysseus. Indulge me, if you will.

At the very start, it is Odysseus' praising his own ingenuity that earned him Poseidon's ire. After all, if Poseidon's serpent had not eaten Laocoon's sons, the Trojan horse would have never been taken inside the city. But, true to any epic, his ego only managed to get his redshirts crew kiled, and he lived on to appease Poseidon and defeat the suitors for his wife's hand.

So I think a writer's hubris can keep them from the distant shore -- or at least lengthen their journey. Writing is intensely personal, and to reduce it to components like parts, parts that can be weighed, judged, and even determined to be gorgeous, can be challenging to the writer's ego, to the point they start to complain about the idea that there is gorgeous writing at all, and if there is, who is someone to say theirs is not?

It was hard to put The Stone That Sings on the back-burner while I completed the exercises, but I'm glad I did. I have a much better understanding of why some prose worked and some did not. I could find my expository sections better, and make sure to keep them relevant. I found new ways to be economical with words. There might even be a gorgeous portion or two within it, who knows?

I think one of the most important things I learned was that if I am resisting an exercise, it is completely fair to ask myself why. Most of the time I am either missing the point or dreading what that point will bring out. Sometimes, it was because what was asked of me took me out of my comfort zone.

I also learned to pick up Virginia Woolf again, who I haven't read since college, and Raymond Carver, and Margaret Atwood, who, much to my amazement, has done so much more than The Handmaid's Tale. Shame on me for not doing better.

So NaNoWriMo is NaNoEdMo, as I put The Stone That Sings through a full edit. I'm already pleased with the first three chapters and look forward to digging into more and maturing the story into something that is more than an outline -- tightening some places, expanding on others. When I am done, I may go back through Steering the Craft, or possibly look at one of the story grid guides, and see whether yet another edit is needed. At the very least, it will help with A Perfect Join, which was last year's NaNoWriMo effort, and to me, could grow into something really fun. Who can resist a Trill whose past life is trying to kill her?

So to those that crashed against the rocks, or are still persuading a blind man in Hades, you should not give up. There is another shore.

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