Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Storytelling is surprisingly interesting

Surprising...and strange.  That's the best way to describe today's writing efforts.

Got home from work awfully late, but that's just the nature of the business I'm in.  Sat down to write, and as usual spent too much time checking e-mail, updating Facebook, etc.  Time Magazine ran an article recently about Jonathan Franzen, a fairly renowned author who refuses to have Internet capabilities on his writing laptop.  That seemed pretty obvious to me, since the distractions available through Internet channels can be pretty tough to switch away from, but it wouldn't work for me.  I think that, were I to sit down at a laptop at which I could only write and think, "OK, now, self.  Time to write," I would just continue to sit and stare in a state of not-write.  It's weird, really.  The engagement my brain requires to put words on the page is only about 3/4.  Too much focus, and my brain just seizes up and stops creativizing.  Doesn't mean I can have the TV on, of course...had to chase my stepdaughter out of the room tonight, in fact, since she was watching the first Superman movie and God knows I can't do anything but watch Superman when it's on. 

In any event, the surprising thing wasn't that I wrote.  It was what I wrote.  If you recall from my previous post, I was all prepared for a pitched argument between the two main protagonists, one of whom is a god and the other of whom is the god's wife.  I was imagining an epic battle of words, which would take either days of I'm-sorries or an hour of truly epic make-up sex to come out of.  But it didn't work out that way.

It's just...weird, really.  The fact is, I don't control the story.  I tell it, sure.  And I try to make it interesting and believable and engaging.  But have no doubt...I do not control it.  I have scenes in mind, things that have to happen to make the plot arc happen as it should so that once it's all over nobody will look at my efforts and say "the dummy didn't have a plot."  But tonight's efforts are real testament to how the author--this author, anyway--doesn't control the story as much as I thought before I started.  As I write, I craft each comment based on what has come before and what the character would most likely say based on their reasoning or lack thereof.  Then the next comment is crafted the same way, and so on.  The end result isn't anything like what I thought it would be.  The pitched argument certainly started pitched, but rapidly settled into a quasi-humorous discussion of the past with a couple of comments about battle tactics over the ages tossed in. 

Bottom line...this really is some fun stuff.  I don't know if when I'm done I'll have something worth publishing or something worth printing and using as firestarter, but in any event it's an enjoyable activity as I never figured writing creatively might be. 

Word count: 38,039

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