Messing About With Words
On the rare occasions I actually manage to write anything significant, on Writing Day, I go to quiet place to write. I have this first draft that took me years. And now I have to fix it.
Today will be a good day, when the fires of inspiration burn bright.
Want to write.
Here I am! I have three whole hours to myself! Let inspiration rain like Zeus’s golden shower!
So I check in my critique group and discover that my green wrinkly mentor is awake on his side of the Pond. He’s a proper writer, namely, he has several very good crime novels to his name, the New York Times once said very nice things about him, and has been writing for about fifty years.
Bob knows stuff. For some reason thinks I’m amusing and have potential, or at least will flirt with him in Latin,
and so occasionally he takes it upon himself to impart pearl necklaces, I mean, pearls of writing wisdom. I email him.
“Can you teach me how to write a mystery. I just can’t get this plot working. Help!”
Unfortunately, I suspect that Bob’s* role in my writerly life is more cryptic than the Sunday Times Crossword. Of course. No work of speculative fiction would be complete without some elderly mentor giving you cryptic advice for their own amusment.
Which means his advice goes something like this:
“What seems to be the trouble?”
“The plot, Bob. Always the plot. And the feckin’ fight scenes! And the constant interruptions.”
“Ah. Great trouble you have!”
“Um, has something gone wrong with your subject-verb order today?”
“Advice you ask. And so in cryptic and grammatically incorrect ways impart I must!”
“Right, so, um . . . I just have so much trouble focusing.”
“A writer must have the deepest commitment, the most serious mind. This one a long time I have watched. All her life she has looked away, to the future, to the horizon, never her mind on where she was. Hmph. Adventure. Heh. Excitement. A writer craves not these things.”
“I really think I should just stop this crime noir urban fantasy crap and write erotic romance. They’re making money over there.”
“Once you start down the dark path, it will dominate your destiny, consume you it will.”
“But, my edits. Sometimes I think they’ll never be done!”
“Always in motion is the future, difficult to see.”
“And I’m seriously off my game. And someone was mean to me on the internet!”
“Beware dark side. Anger, fear, agression, the dark side of the interwebs they are. Follow me, to Crime and Action writing, and engage not in circular discussion. Have some filthy pictures and off-colour japery! Above all, write you must. Within yourself, use the Farce!”
“OK. I’ll try.”
“Do, or not. There is no try.”
” I’m glad we had this chat, Bob. Everything is so much more opaque now in my head.”
After this last conversation I decided that no matter now many books you read on plotting, no matter now many websites you read on filter words, adverbs and story structure you peruse, you must Use the Farce to write. And so I start little vignettes, warm-up excercises, until the words flow well. The freedom of the page, the stories told in the spaced between the words.
Until I realise the morning has gone, I really should have cleaned the bathroom and washed the dishes.
*Name changed to protect the small, green, and wrinkly.
© LJ McDowall 2015.