I wrote in one of my daily blogs this week about finding a great link from twitter to a series of videos of Ira Glass speaking about the story process. I promised I would write more about it on today's blog.
Hopefully you can follow my thought processes on this...I was on twitter when I saw this tweet by @ThereseWalsh "Not enough gets said about the importance of abandoning crap." Ira Glass on Storytelling http://bit.ly/lTz1O. I thought- BINGO- the importance of abandoning crap. So many would-be writers spend years on the same story- the same few chapters-not moving on until they get someone to tell them those chapters are perfect and will garner them an immediate sale and NYT bestseller listing... except it won't. It doesn't work that way. Some people cling to a story thinking it is the only one they have in them... maybe it is... most likely it's not. The point being to finish the story-it's imperfections are what make it unique. Then move on to a second story. You can revise story one and query for it once you start story two.
What? you say, no!-- one thing at a time... Listen trust me. Stories need to peculate or cook. Finish story one and then start story two. Give story one time to cook. Then go back. You have to write more than one full book to discover your story process...to learn, to grow. Each person's process is different and that's OKAY. Really.
Unfortunately, as I've mentioned before, writer's are superstitious. Due to the vast subjectivity of what gets published, what gets marketed, etc. This superstition leads us to search out "rules" that will give us instant success...like searching for the perfect diet that will make us all slim, beautiful and young for life... Which leads to a lot of so called "rules of craft" out there. Now, don't get me wrong most of these are valid and important to learn. But following them does not mean you will be published and dazzle with your talent and hit the Times list the first time out. No matter how many people tell you "it's a rule."
A few years into my "writer's journey" I had written five full manuscripts, hired an agent, fired an agent, I was told by a "published author"..."Your problem is you write too fast." What? "You write too fast. You skip too much. You're all over the place." Huh. An unpublished critique partner of this author nodded. "That was my problem. I wrote too fast. I've since slowed way down and really take care with my words." (To this day she is still unpublished.)
My point being- DON'T LET ANYONE TELL YOU THAT YOUR PERSONAL PROCESS IS WRONG.
How does this relate to Ira Glass?-- in the video, he said that what people don't talk about is how much time it takes to find a good story. How many stories you have to sift through to find the one that sparkles. This hit me. That is what I do. (Thank you Ira for validating my process) My writing process is fast because I'm exploring the stories in my head, sifting and creating, searching for the one that will draw you in and entertain you. Or sifting through the ways to best tell a story that I know is good, but I've just not written it right yet. It's MY process. And yes, I have learned "the importance of abandoning crap." Some of my stuff is crap. *shrug* It's a process.
But you can't know it's crap until you write it-all the way through. Think of it like cooking. You see a recipe-sounds good- you try it. It tastes bad. You throw it out. BUT- a good cook will think about what made it taste bad-over cooked, too much salt, a wrong ingredient...and try again. It's part of the creative process. No one just cooks the first dish perfectly-there are too many variables-oven temperature, humidity, etc. And no one-no one- can be a chef if they don't ever finish a recipe all the way through.
Write the entire book...write another... learn your process... abandon the crap that doesn't work...use your process as the basis for your career and you will succeed. And more importantly if you need a published author to validate your process- I'm here, right now to tell you that when you finish a book-no matter how you finished the book- your creative process is valid. Now- go write another.
(Ira Glass speaks on story telling using video-but his words work for writing as well. A special Thank You to Therese Walsh for the link.)