- TERESA’S THOUGHTS:
Writing is a series of steps.
The first step is getting the idea from my brain onto my laptop. My brain can’t be too tired or distracted. Often my fingers are unable to type fast enough for the floodgate of words spilling out. It feels like my brain is vomiting. My only goal is for words to land somewhere on the page. Sometimes this takes several writing sessions for like any good purging of the gut, the brain belly must be fully emptied. Side roads needing exploration pop up, “Oh, that’s interesting. I’m glad you thought of that,” I say to myself as I follow each lead as far as I can. This step is complete when I have nothing left to add.
The second step is probably my least favorite. Imagine entering a room a toddler was left to play in unsupervised. They had free reign to wander, touch, topple over, pull out and explore every nook and cranny. The toddler, grinning from ear to ear, sits proudly in the middle of the jumbled mess they created. In this step I am the responsible grown-up charged with making some semblance of order out of the toddler’s delightful chaos. Seriously I flesh out thoughts, provide examples, group ideas and make sure the story flows in an orderly and realistic fashion.
My favorite step comes after the words have been left to marinate in their own juices for several days. This step involves eliminating words rather than adding them. Time apart allows me to distance myself enough to more clearly spot where my ego has inserted fancy sentences which are unnecessary to the story. I wonder how many words I can cut. I gleefully watch the word count shrink as the delete button eats redundancy, repetitiveness and bland writing. Examples which once seemed relevant make the story stronger with their absence. Like a gardener pruning to foster more vibrant plants, I prune in hopes of a making a more vibrant story.
There are steps beyond these and when the writing is ready, I will take them one step at a time.
- WHAT I LEARNED THIS WEEK ABOUT WRITING:
I am amazed any book has ever been written! It is astonishing library shelves are full of literary works considering the incredible amount of focus each one takes. I currently have 21,108 words in a rough draft. I need at least 50,000 more. Onward.
- EXCERPT FROM BOOK IN PROGRESS:
From the chapter titled, “Tamir.”
“As a child growing up in the 80’s, I played, “Cowboys and Indians.” I never questioned the racist message of television shows which portrayed cowboys as heroes and Indians as savages. If I pretended to be an Indian, I might wear a headband and fashion a clumsy bow and arrow from tree branches and string. Tapping my hand over my open mouth I made war cries with whooping sounds like, “ai, yai, yai, yai.” If I pretended to be a cowboy, I used my toy gun to shoot the savages.
In this game if my friends and I were wounded, we would fall dramatically to the ground, pretending to be dead. We’d developed a rule saying we could come back to life and start playing again after ten seconds. We figured saying, “one Mississippi,” equaled one second. While lying on the ground we would count out loud, “One Mississippi, two Mississippi” all the way to, “ten Mississippi.” Once our ten-second death was over, we’d jump up and begin shooting again. We played this game in our backyards and neighborhood. We never worried grown-ups who saw us playing with toy guns might be afraid.”