Friday, December 21, 2012

The Point Where You Stop Talking About It

Earlier in the week I edited the opera story and sent it to a reader. Matt liked it. I liked it too, although I had the same feeling in rereading it that I had when I finished drafting it. Not my favorite story of mine, but solid and worthwhile. I guess it's not necessary to spray my guts on the page with every single story in order to do good work. (Contrary to popular wisdom.)

I'm chugging along on KUFC. I think it's going okay. I'm continuing the practices that have worked so far: 1) not writing every day, 2) taking notes about the next couple of chapters when I'm finished with the current one, 3) writing longhand for the first draft instead of typing.

I don't have that much to say about the process of writing this one. Part of the reason is simply that I'm playing it close to the vest. Matt doesn't even know that much about the story, when usually, idea-wise, he could easily claim credit as my co-writer. This means that when I get stuck I have to get out of it on my own, which is hard, kind of exhilarating, and leads me (ironically) to greater certainty about the ideas I'm integrating. Perhaps it's blind arrogance, not certainty, but I guess we'll see when I'm finished.

Another part of the reason I think I don't have much to say was voiced eloquently by your hero and mine, Caitlin Moran, in an interview with The Hairpin:
You know when you've met the right person because there's nothing really to say. I've noticed that time and time again, every time one of my girlfriends goes "I've met this guy," and it just goes on forever in the G+ circles I'm in, and there will be pages and pages filled with like five or six of us debating what he said and what he did, and you're going "Well he did this, and he did that, what does it mean?" And then suddenly that person will disappear, and they've met someone else and they'll just resurface five weeks later and you go "What's going on?" and they're like "I just found a man." And they just stop talking about it. That is generally the key, the point where you stop talking about it, because there is nothing to say when you're happy. So yes, that's basically one of the big rules that I've found out in life. If you're talking about him, it's probably not your future husband.
It's not that I think KUFC is The Book of Destiny, but I do think that better relationships and better writing result when you can get your insecurities to shut the fuck up and let you conduct your business. If I have lots and lots to say and parse and think and dig into and moooooooan about, then I'm not sure the writing's really going that well. I optimistically interpreted this behavior as caring about my art, as talk-therapy to make it better, but it walks and quacks like insecurity and obsession, not meticulousness.

So. Word by word, it's going on the page. Don't know what else to tell you without giving it away.

Over the last couple of weeks Matt and I have been having a sort of ongoing conversation about Jim Butcher's wisdom on storycraft and other assorted writing skills. Matt's part of the conversation is actually a lot more interesting than mine, but he brought it to my attention that Butcher is not a fan of literary writing and has taken the trouble to point out why it sucks compared to genre fiction.

It depresses me that a writer I like as much as Butcher has a closed-minded view on literary writing, which he set forth in brief in the comments on his website. Those posts are years old so I don't know if he's come around to literary fiction since then, but sheesh, that is so not the way forward for genre writers, to get bitchy about the differences between the forms. Since reading as a hobby has been trending downward basically since the end of the Victorian era, I equate this genre/literary argument to passengers arguing about seating arrangements on the Titanic lifeboats. We're all after the same thing, let's just get along, mmkay?

If you want to see a really lengthy example of the literary argument against Jim Butcher, a screed which, when you clear away all the fancy words and the ability to construct a debate-team-style argument out of popsicle sticks and Superglue, is the work of a troll with a dictionary, go here. If you want to see a reasonably good set of arguments against Butcher's opinion, go here, but the comments get a little bit snippy.

Christmas, she's a-comin'. I woke up with a sore throat, so it's possible my already-potent holiday cheer will be intensified by a virus. Whee. I'm not sure whether I'll be posting much over the next seven days; I'll be out of town, and I'll have my laptop but it's really a whirlwind tour that's been planned. So, in case I don't see ya, good afternoon, good evening, and good night.


Anonymous said...

Keep plugging away. Very interested to see how you translate parkour (a very visual art) into written word.

Katharine Coldiron said...

Thank you, dear Anonymous. I think the answer is "badly".

Denise said...

Thinking of you this holiday!

I'm sorry about the sore throat, but I'm secretly glad (well, now publicly) that it can't be blamed on me. I've been sick and was already blamed for ruining a whole family's Christmas in so many words, so it's nice to hear that other people are getting sick without my help.

I miss you!! I hope that your whirlwind trip is enjoyable and not stressful. And if you're anywhere near me on Christmas Eve, please stop by! We're inviting friends for drinks and apps all day. <3

Katharine Coldiron said...

I think I can say pretty surely now that I'm sick, and even more surely that you didn't do it. O'er the fields I go, coughing all the way (koff koff koff).

I miss you too! Have a great time!