Thursday, September 1, 2011

Stringing Along

This Annie Dillard book I'm reading...

TT: I should be done with it. The thing's like 20 pages long. OK, maybe a 100. I could read it in an hour. But it fits really well in my purse, so it's become my "purse book." You know, that book you carry around for when you have to wait in a doctor's office or the drive-through? The book you never actually have time to read until you don't have it with you? That book. Which means I'm reading it in one or two sentence snatches. Once I buy a Kindle, I won't have this problem.

Back to topic.

This Annie Dillard book I'm reading... She doesn't really have a point I can see. Maybe that's the point. She'll give involved metaphors for the writing journey, then she'll give some straightforward accounts of her writing journey. I like those better. She'll quote some famous authors about their writing journey, then give two conflicting accounts of how writers write.

Like I said, I occasionally wonder what she was ingesting while she wrote it. She claims coffee and cigarettes, but she doesn't specify what kind of cigarettes.

I guess it's a book to show the variety of ways people write.

What I'm taking from it at this point is her idea of stringing sentences together. That's all writing really is. You can never capture the idea in your head with words, any more than you can capture the image in your head with paint or charcoal or ink (one of the reasons I stopped drawing when I hit adulthood). You're not supposed to. The idea starts the process, but in trying to capture it, you end with something completely different, like Monty Python.

This happened with Star of Justice. The original idea was to bring the reader on the journey of translating the Words of the Oread. As the story developed, that goal moved farther back in the minivan until it now rides the bumper. Is that bad? I don't think so. It was hard to let go of that original idea, but I did.

All I can say is Annie Dillard is helping me write sentences. I string them together until something pretty happens (keep stringing) or something awful (cut the string and try again), but the key is setting aside the time to string.

Writing is about the process. If I don't have a process involving writing words, I'm not a writer.
Simple as that.

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