E Cubed

Energy, exploring, and expectations.

The more I write fiction, the greater I understand that much of my writing is about exploring what I’m thinking and understand (and then trying to explain and share it by putting it in a story), and managing expectations about writing.

Some days, about one in fifty, I think, I don’t want to write. It’s mostly because I weary of my routine and want a time out. This typically happens when multiple energy levels – creative, physical, intellectual, mental, and emotional, let’s say – simultaneously drop to low levels. That puts me in a black place. That’s when I must dig deepest and longest to sit down and start typing those first words. If I can make it through a paragraph, I’ll persist and write several pages.

I know this. That’s when managing expectations enter my personal equation. Like everything else, my writing efforts reside on a spectrum. I know there are days when the words leap effortlessly through mind and onto media (and I love those days, and thank the Universe for the experience). On the spectrum’s opposite end on those weary, turgid days. Not only do I not want to write, but I’m also pretty much a much larger asshole than I am on other days. My tolerance, patience, and bonhomie seem completely drained on those days.

I also know that regardless of my approach and expectations to writing (and editing, and the rest of the writing process) on those days, I can rarely tell the difference in the end product. I edit, revise and polish too much. I tend to write the bones down in a flurry, and then more leisurely add details, bridges, and expansion. For instance, the first line of a new chapter begun the other day ended up being the first line of the sixth paragraph by the time I finished the chapter. That line was the part of the scene I first saw, but then the light grew wider and brighter, and I saw more of the scene, and entered the characters and their expectations and participation more deeply.

I know all of these things because I’ve explored myself and my approach to writing, and what I like and dislike about my processes. And then I write and post about it because that helps me clarify my understanding. Sometimes, other writers respond, and let me know, “Hey, me, too,” and that helps, too, because I see that I’m just another normal, fucked up writer. I might even be human.

Time to write like crazy, at least one more time.

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2 thoughts on “E Cubed

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  1. “For instance, the first line of a new chapter begun the other day ended up being the first line of the sixth paragraph by the time I finished the chapter.”

    Conventional “wisdom” tells us that all writers, all the time, always and invariably begin a story too EARLY and must cut away the original beginning to get to where the story actually starts… I’ve never had that problem; if anything, I tend to start a story a little bit too late (at least according to my beta readers, years ago) and have to add a bit onto the front end. Examples: The original beginning line of my short story “Finder’s Fee” ended up halfway down the first page. The original opening sentence of “that novel” is currently… (*does quick search in manuscript for phrase “cold and remote” *) a dozen chapters in, and may get moved back a bit further before it’s all done.

    “That line was the part of the scene I first saw, but then the light grew wider and brighter, and I saw more of the scene, and entered the characters and their expectations and participation more deeply.”

    Hey, me, too.

    I didn’t even know who was “talking” when I wrote that first line for “Finder’s Fee.” I knew the character from the original opening of “that novel,” but I didn’t know why he was in the situation, nor anything of the bigger picture. (Hmm. Sounds ever so slightly like someone else’s protagonist… ‘Excuse me, but I’m your author, and I’d really like to know who you are and why you’re attacking this castle. Also, I hope you don’t mind that I sort of, um, patterned your youngest brother after someone I’ve been friends with since elementary school.’) Which is fine, because the bigger picture ended up changing a lot. Got a lot bigger, too. (And the viewpoint character from that original opening got some beneficial backstory revision, including a “normal-person companion” who will soon be revealed to be nothing of the sort… To quote that friend from a scene in a different story, “Maybe you should have led with that.”)

    “I might even be human.”

    *unable to resist urge to warp-quote crowd scene from The Life of Brian* “Yes, we are all human.” …”I’m not.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I enjoyed your comments, Thomas. Yes, I’m just as you say (good to know there are others out there). That first blush of writing a new whatever happens with an instinct that I don’t challenge nor understand. “(Hmm. Sounds ever so slightly like someone else’s protagonist… ‘Excuse me, but I’m your author, and I’d really like to know who you are and why you’re attacking this castle. Also, I hope you don’t mind that I sort of, um, patterned your youngest brother after someone I’ve been friends with since elementary school.’)” Exactly how I write; begin, and then figure it out.

      Nice reference to The Life of Brian. *grin*, Cheers

      Liked by 1 person

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