Many bloggers write frequently about the mechanics of writing. They have an intimate understanding of the tools of the trade; when to write in the third person, when to use first person. They know how to foreshadow and whether or not to outline a story. These people write the way a master cabinetmaker plies his trade. He builds something functional that everyone needs but does so in a manner so that it has aesthetically pleasing lines and adds visual appeal to the room in which it is used. A cabinetmaker can change a box on the wall in which dishes are stored into a beautiful piece of furniture. The right kitchen cabinetry is often a deciding factor as to which house a person chooses to purchase. Many writers have that intimate understanding of which words to choose, how to arrange them and the specific tilt the plot should have. Their craftsmanship is awe inspiring.
Alas, my style is quite different. I am not the master of the techniques of writing nor am I well skilled in constructing words and paragraphs to foreshadow at the proper time. Unlike the cabinetmaker I’m more of a do-it-yourselfer. I figure I’ve got a hammer, a box of nails and some odds and ends of wood; what more do I need?
So here’s how I write.
Many times the basic idea rolls around in the back of my mind while performing chores, showering or whatever. It would be overly kind to refer to it as a half-baked plot; it’s much closer to letting the sour dough starter bubble overnight in order to bake bread. It’s more pre-baked and unbaked.
In many cases the first thing that I settle on is the character or characters. I’m sure any reader with education in psychology will have a field day with this, but my characters seem almost real to me. If they didn’t there’s no way I could write about them to make them seem real to you. By real, I mean that given a particular situation I know how a particular character will respond. Sometimes this makes writing easier; at other times when I need to have a certain turn of events, if my character can’t respond properly, I need to create another character.
So now I have my character and maybe the beginning of the plot in mind. It’s time to start writing, so I go into my office. I notice my son is checking sports info, so I leave the office to take care of some other chore. Eventually he leaves and I sit down to write.
But first, I’d better check e-mail. You never know – there might be something important in the in-box. Then I check one of the news sites. If the world is at the precipice of destruction, it would be far more appropriate to grab a nap; I’m sure Samuel Clemens would have chosen a nap over writing if faced with the end of the world. (Stephen King, on the other hand….)
Okay, the headlines don’t predict Armageddon, so I need to sit down and write. However, that nap idea is pretty tempting. After all, one enjoys a nap much better if the world is NOT ending.
I decide I don’t have time for a nap – not because of the need to write but because of some other reason, so I sit down to write. Uh oh, Alex the parrot is in dire need of attention, so I let him out of his cage and put him on my shoulder. He runs down my arm which makes typing an manipulating the mouse close to impossible. Soon he’s on the desktop and starts rummaging through the collection of objects on my desk. I retrieve various pens, pencils and papers from him and try to convince him to sit quietly on my shoulder. (If you ever receive an actual written document from me and one corner is irregular, that’s probably because Alex did it.) I put Alex back in his cage.
Nobody writes without having something to drink, so I get up, make a small pot of coffee or get a glass of water and head back into the office. Better check the e-mail and news again. The phone rings – that’s always good for a few minutes reprieve. Or maybe it doesn’t ring and I wonder who might have called but didn’t.
What’s that noise outside? Could be a garbage truck, could be a fire truck. I’d better check. As I walk back into the office, Alex tells me he needs a treat, so I give him a sunflower seed.
Finally, all extraneous activities, excuses and distractions dutifully handled. I start to write. Once I start, somehow it starts to flow. Usually I write in one sitting and may actually even read and edit the piece. (When I read some of what I wrote, I often ask what did I mean by that!?)
I copy the piece and paste it into the blog. I’m done – at least for today.
Actually I do enjoy writing and expressing myself, but it’s kind of like mowing the lawn or working out – I enjoy having done it far more than actually doing it.
So now you know why I don’t write many blogs about writing blogs.
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