Saturday, April 21, 2012

writing and rewriting

My pen flowed across the pages this week, my mind clear of chemicals and rested by a return to sleeping through the night. The pages quickly filled. Then I stopped, intent that I needed to begin typing the paragraphs into my manuscript. But I stopped that, too. Hesitant, self-critical, wondering: Does this thread make sense? Does it move the story along? Does it fit? What is my character's motivation?

Faced with the jarring, hesitating dance my left hand makes back and forth across the keyboard, the dexterity-challenging process of typing the pages and my doubts about whether what I'd just written should even be in the novel made me rethink my endeavor. And my commitment.

This winter I took a writing class on plot. I learned some useful things that I can apply to this and other projects. At the end of the class, a few of us decided to begin meeting weekly (almost) to talk writing. The first week, it was just two of us, but it looks like the group will be a foursome. Just the right size. Our goal is not to critique, nor is it to"workshop" our writing. Our goal is to encourage and support; to share ideas.

At that first meeting, I told Judith about my project and told her I hoped to have my first draft finished in time for the Kachemak Bay Writers' Conference, in June. She asked how far I was; how far from the end I was; then she did something very organized: she suggested a page goal. Eight typed pages a week that I could email to her as proof. I was no longer just accountable to myself; now she was counting on me to send my pages. This is why last weekend it was so important to get my pages typed. Now, I'm not so sure.

Our group met last evening at a coffee shop a few blocks from my house. I shared with them my challenge, how I was unsure of character motivation; that I didn't know how to end the story; that I felt I was just filling pages. And filling pages is fine if it's cranked out in just a few minutes, but to type only to strike out pages of text down the road? Ah, Sisyphus! Your crimes were far greater than mine! Typing up the pages I wrote this week is now on hold until I decide where to take the story next. I'll just sit on this rock and ponder for a while.

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