Monday, November 24, 2008

Decisions, revisions

There are as many ways to write as their are people who do it. I've long been of the think it out, write it down school. I tried sitting down and recording whatever came into my head, letting characters emerge and conduct themselves as they please, but I only got people discussing the relative merits of pistachio ice cream - nothing to make a plot, let alone further one.

In my summer workshop, Wayson Choy suggested writing without censorship, just putting stuff down and not worrying whether it works or what people will think, and then sifting through to find the common thread. And there's another technique, which is to let it all unfold in your mind like a gift and then write it down. This is rare, but exciting, and has happened to me twice this fall.

Editing these approaches is as different as writing them. When I write without censorship, I find it easy to cut away, because I've gone out in so many different directions: it's like standing in front of the topiary with shears in my hand. I prune. But when I've written in one direction, even when I know I've gone too far down that road - and I don't always - I have to decide how far back to go before I start over.

That's probably true of a lot of things in life, isn't it?

1 comment:

st. jude said...

I like "letting it unfold in your mind like a gift". The gift part is key, I feel.

And I think that living in gratitude is the best way to recognize gifts as they come to us.