Sunday, January 16, 2011
The Writer's Cocoon
Yes, I had to study how to write a novel. Having a good story in your head does not equate to being an author. Being a literature teacher for six years does not equate to knowing how to write a work of fiction.
It is a craft. One I did not respect enough in my early days stumbling through my first attempt at writing this novel. Blogs, websites, story structure books, I read them all. But the education came in the actual writing, the numerous failed attempts. AND THERE WERE NUMEROUS FAILED ATTEMPTS.
I queried way too early. The MS was no where near ready. I was no where near ready as a writer. Me, the kittypillar hadn't even found my damned tree yet. I trudged and trudged. But I wasn't alone on this journey. I found some other kittypillars along the way. One you know here, AJ/JAWS.
All were well written. So, my writing friends told me. My CP told me to stop fecking with something that didn't need fecking with in the first place. Jaws said what I had was good and should own it.
But I doona listen verra well. So, I continued to feck with said opening. If you've ever listened to my diatribes about the opening to my MS, you know we haven't exactly seen eye to eye. To get past this stumbling block I immersed myself in story structure books, blogs, websites, and I read and read and read various works of fiction. I devoured them. By forcing myself to step out of my comfort zone and read books I normally wouldn't, I felt a shift take place. It was subtle and barely noticeable but it was there.
I evolved in some weird way. It's something I cannot really explain but you too may have felt this yourself. By reading so much I felt I had a better understanding not only of the craft but of...me...the writing me. This enlightened Charli Mac has new eyes and a fresh outlook. It happened this way...
I asked a fellow friendly writer to read all seven of my versions. This facetious lil' redhead (not JAWS, another one) said she would. Boy, she had no idea what she was getting into.
She read one, just one and emailed me. Her question was an Ah-ha moment. She asked me what voice did I want to use for this MS. Because this opening was different from the one she'd read a while back. Voice, voice, voice, voice, it's all about the voice. And she was right. And AJ was right. And so were a handful of other writing friends. I was losing my voice by re-working all these openings.
Facetious redhead told me to sit back and decide how and in what way I want to tell this story. To do so I had to read ALL the openings I'd done. ALL OF THEM.
I did. What I found was priceless. The version I had a while back was good. Really good. It had the right premise, set-up, and it made me feel something I hadn't in a long time-sure of myself. A major brain fart came and I combined a few things and decided to expand on my hero's Save the Cat Moment, a moment I already had in the book before even buying said feline bible of story structure.
More so I was proud that I had this within me all the time. Stubbornness, the need for the MS to be accepted, all blurred my vision. I wouldn't change how I got here for the world. Never in a million years. All of these headaches were the growing pains of becoming a writer. It wasn't easy and I've moved on from some parts of my writing life, left some distractions behind. And I feel amazing.
I can feel my wings growing in this cocoon I've created. Pretty soon I will sprout, break free, and fly. But that will be much later. This kittypillar still has a lot of work to do in here.