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Thursday, March 31, 2011
8:01 PM | Posted by Maureen | | Edit Post
I was attending a Steampunk Convention last weekend with a dear friend of mine, P. She is a real engineer type writer. By this I mean that she isn’t a plotter…that doesn’t go far enough to explain how P. writes. She doesn’t just outline. She OUTLINES.
Before she writes, she has every single scene figured out…or that is her ambition, since we all know that we writers seldom have things work so smoothly. But P. tries. Colored highlighters? Check! Colored post-it notes? Check! Character sheets? Check! Basic W Diagram, for every character, the romance, the plot and the arc? Check!
She has taken more classes in the last year than I have taken in eight years. She is an avid online class taker and actually…really…takes part in the online classes she takes. (Unlike me, who lurks, takes notes and stashes them away in a folder, intending to use them…someday.)
It’s really quite amazing we can talk writing.
P. has taken classes on everything you can think of. She has dissected her writing and revisioned it. I mean, honestly, she impresses the hell out of me. She writes with painstaking precision. It’s amazing. We talk and I burble on about some wild assed idea I had or how my plot ran away from me and split like that car commercial with the little mini (I think it’s a mini..) and runs down streets, seeking the clearest path and then eventually all comes together so the driver makes the ferry…
You know, that is a very apt analogy of how I write…
Where was I?
Oh, yeah! P. is an extraordinary plotter. If she were a computer programmer she would be the engineer all the other engineers would hate because she’d insist of perfection with every bit of code they wrote. If she were cooking, she’d be the tyrant in the kitchen who threw out ingredients because they weren’t perfect. She’d be the film director who exhausts her actors. But, in all of this, she’d put out something that would impress. No loose ends, no dangling plotlines, no side characters taking over anything.
None of the stuff I consider totally necessary to having fun.
I’m not sure she has fun when she writes. She is driven and doesn’t have time to sightsee.
I want to stop at every overlook and gape for an hour.
Now, you want to know something fascinating about this woman? She is also an artist. She paints wonderful visions, right out of fantasy and science fiction. Starscapes. Doorways to another world. Dancers skipping across the cosmos. Magicians and witches and cats and birds and wolves and… I met her at a science fiction/fantasy convention, selling her art and showing in the art shows. She once wore Vulcan ears to the convention. (Used the wrong glue and couldn’t get them off for DAYS!)
I know she paints with precision when it comes to technique. But it is amazing…how does the rampant vision of fantasy exist hand in hand with a writer who is so intensely structured?
I mean, I’m anarchistic. When I write, when I don’t clean house, when I shop or don’t cook… or flit about the internet with no plan… I…you know, that last one is biting me on the ass. But let’s not go there right now… (No, I didn’t set my reputation on fire with an ill-conceived rant. I just waste a lot of time.)
Anyway! The contradiction, or seeming contradiction, of how P. manages these two creative endeavors fascinates me. And she has admitted the way I write repels her. But I told her the way she writes has a similar effect on me! So, we’re about on the same page with that. She needs control and as much as possible, she has it. I could use some of that control, that hands-on-the-reins sort of thing right now.
Today, I’m one day away from leaving for Los Angeles and the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention. And I’ve tried to plan my packing, plan my promotion, plan my being ready for whatever I face and how I handle it.
Of course, I expect to forget something important. I expect to deal with disruptions that throw my planning out the window. I expect to find things I’m not ready for. And when the things I expect come true…well, I’ll blithely look to the sky and thank the universe for giving me the chance to be here, regardless of how much something might stink at the time.
I hope I’m that good about it. ;-)
(I even enlisted two friends to be my designated ass-kickers. To keep me from falling prey to melancholy or freezing up when I need to be basking in the joy of simply being there. Celeste and Kim? You got your big boots ready?)
Am I prepared? Who the hell knows!? In control? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
When it comes to handling the ‘fiction’ of being in control, where do you fall? Not just the writing pantser or plotter stuff, but the planner, the schemer, the floating leaf on the currents of life? Are you the control freak? The give-it-to-the-universe type? How does it touch upon not just how you write, but what you write? Do you write your characters the same as you? (Prime material for conflict, btw.)
Labels: Loader's Logic (2nd Chance)