Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Writing from the Brain Stem

I had some really good news yesterday as regards writing, but its specifics are going to have to wait. It hurts me more than it hurts you.

Today I have the following plans: take car in for oil change and painful gouging alignment/brakes fixing, possibly get haircut, and write short story. I mentioned that I came up with an idea last week at yoga class, and seeing as it's been marinating a week with only a couple of paragraphs actually put on the page, I think it's time for me to stop procrastinating and write the damn thing. I'm intimidated by it, though, because it feels like the successor to my most successful story to date, and I don't want to fuck it up. Worrying about that before it's on the page is bound to do nothing but paralyze, but there it is.

I also really must go back to Greenland. My cousin-in-law is doing NaNoWriMo, and as I watch her page count climb via Facebook, I start to feel ashamed that I've stalled at 59,000 words for my own novel. I'm just a couple of scenes away from the end of the middle third of the book, and I'm incredibly uncertain that the third third should go the way that I've intended it to go for the last five years of having the book in mind. I feel like that last third could go a number of other ways, and I feel...scrambly, like I'm running out of time and should be putting together an outline or just a plan of some kind, hurry quick before it's too late. (This is a total fallacy, because as I sit here and don't write it only becomes less urgent for me to come up with the ending.)

But the best ending I think I've ever devised, for the science fiction novella I wrote a couple of years ago, was a complete and utter surprise right up to the fateful sentences. I had no idea that was how the book ended until I wrote it. So I'm trying to kind of stay loose with the ending of this one, to write through it and just see what happens. Maybe not the smartest solution, but my anxiety about it isn't going to magic a plot out of thin air.

Maybe brainstorming would be of use. Jot some possible endings (or all possible endings I can think of), just to put them in my mind, so my writing-brain can draw on them on the point of writing it all.

The writing-brain. That's a useful concept. I believe both that stories come from somewhere, from an interdimensional muse, and come from the hard work of kneading through one word at a time. A lot of the time I'm writing through the Fictator, through the me that plunks down one word at a time, painfully, Frank Conroy-style. But some of the time I'm writing in that zone of nowhere, through the me that composes sentences and paragraphs without even consulting the Fictator and has no anxiety or procrastination in her heart at all.

No comments: