Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Some Random Thoughts

All right, knuckers, there are some posts I skip entirely on your blogs, because it is mostly a rant and I usually don't read rants.

Unless I feel like a-ranting myself.

So if you skip this blog, more power to you. Knuckle-tap and Wonder Twins unite, I would've skipped this one, too.

If you made it this far, here's my rant. I hope you're ready.

I've been writing on my current piece now for a few months. I plotted, re-characterized, re-plotted, wrote some concept scenes, so on ad nauseum ad infinitum pro bono bona fide veni vidi vici.

Only sans the veni vidi vici part. I came. I saw. I got my ass whupped Texas style.

Actually, I kicked my own ass. I've been a-ranting these past few weeks on the rules. Now, that's not a random occurrence. I didn't accidentally rant on that stuff.

I also didn't listen to my own little voices well enough. I ducked back into my cave -- that's where I can be alone, without the spotlight, no blogs, no editors, no betas and no worries -- and I wrote myself some personal notes. It's my way of digging up the worms and hearing them speak.

They're soft creatures, worms. You pot em, they die. Squeeze em, they die. Over-water, they bubble up to the surface and the birds get em. Under-water, and they dry into crunchy little twigs.

But cut em in half and you get more worms. You can't hardly kill em with a knife. Go figure. Sometimes God doesn't make a bit of fucking sense, does He?

Anyway, my personal notes-to-self, the ones I'd never publish online or anywhere else for that matter, are the ones that mean the most to me, and the ones that do their speaking in a voice so loud I can't help but not ignore it.

How's that for some triple negatives stacked ad nauseum?

I heard it, the voice, and here's what it said:


Swing on the coattails of your characters. Grab hold and hold on tight. That's a Bradbury quote. It was more along the lines of unleash your characters and hold onto their coattails. Something like that.


I realized what I already knew, and it is this: I cannot re-write. I cannot plot. I cannot think ahead and expect to write something brilliant and well-planned.

I am not a pantser, nor am I a plotter. I am something in-between.

My mind prefers a vague concept, a cool scene, something fun to begin with, and then a follow-on scene, something fun to write, interesting characters, and I'm turning the page of my own work and each morning reading for the first time a story that ~I~ wrote.

I've re-written my current piece seventeen times, now. That's a fact. I am on cut #18.

And you know what? I looked back at the first cut, and it wasn't that bad. I should've kept going, but now I'm afraid I may have killed it.

I over-watered and it drowned. I might be able to suck off the excess and keep going, but I have other bodies in my trunk besides this one, dead stories, the almost-concepts, the ones who didn't make it off the operating table. I have so many of them I bet there isn't enough lime and formaldehyde in Dallas to cover the stench.

Anyway. That's the worms a-talking. That's my rant. That's why I've been boogering so hard on the rules these past few weeks, because they've been fidgeting so much with my worms that I can't write!

I must write from the cave, from inside my own self, for myself, by myself, to myself, holding nothing back.

Embrace the rules for your own protection. You get that, don't you? Like how you might tackle a growling dog and then rub its belly.

You have any rants you'd like to share?

- Eric

17 comments:

L. Diane Wolfe said...

No, actually I feel pretty stress free after reading yours - LOL!

Jemi Fraser said...

I agree with Diane! :)

I do worry that over-editing takes the voice out of my work though. It's always so hard to tell.

Palindrome said...

wow, way to stress me out. I think I do the same things when writing therefore I edit poorly. I'm getting better though. Practice practice practice...but hopefully only 15 times and not 18. :P

Phoenix said...

Yeah... I do the same thing. Over-analyze, over-analyze... I even physically over-water my plants. I just can't let it go and trust in myself...

This isn't to say your piece is killed and dead and gone. I don't think there's anything that can't be resurrected (hey, we've all seen Pet Cemetery).

Sometimes I think it is better though, to stay in that cave until we're damn sure, and then we don't let anyone else influence us too heavily.

Best of luck - I'm sure your piece will turn out fine if you set it aside for a few days/weeks. I wouldn't worry too much :)

PS my current rant in life has nothing to do with yours, but it's about people who refuse to do things themselves but insist on telling others how to do it and then watching over and micro-managing. Drives.Me.Insane. Either do it yourself or leave me the hell alone! ;)

Eric W. Trant said...

Diane: Glad to help. It's always nice to look around and someone else is more miserable than you. ;)

Jemi: Over-editing, no doubt about it. For me, it's a process. I invent all these new curse words and them blammo! Out comes the best one yet and it's the one I stick with.

Hannah: Practice makes permanent (not perfect). That's a golf saying. Be careful how you practice. I think I've been practicing a-wrong and it's throwing off my game, hard. This blogging and over-thinking sure hasn't helped!

Tracy: I miss my cave. I think I've discovered this year, in 2010, after writing in the cave for ~20 years, that I'm no good in the light. I have to hand over a finished piece. I'm just one of those types.

As for your rant, ditto verbatim. My old boss was like that. He wound up doing a lot of his own actions himself b/c I'd just up and say, "Have at," and drop the project.

I mean, he's just a boss, right.

- Eric

catwoods said...

I have a manuscript in ICU right now from over-analyzing and over-editing.

I'm not quite ready for a funeral yet, but I fear that if I dare to tinker with it even a little, it won't be strong enough to survive the airlift.

And yet, I'm not sure if it's worth trying CPR...

Donna Hole said...

I've been on a personal rant for weeks now Eric. At least it seems that way. Its summer; what do you expect? We're all a little cranky.

I've sort of been having the same issue, though. Dragging my WIP out for others to crit as I work along just isn't working well for me. Don't get me wrong, I love my writers group, -they've really been a big help in developing my writing - but I just can't seem to write anything knowing I need to share it before the idea is fully crafted.

Maybe I'm just stubborn; but I don't want to listen to anybody else's style preferences - yet. I don't want to think about the rules at all until its been revised and edited at least three times by me alone.

Does that sound like where you're coming from? I like the idea of hiding in a cave with the worms and letting them crawl around my brain for a while. I pretty much wrote my first novel that way - not as pantser or plotter, just a "what if" thinker.

Perhaps you are over-analyzing. Don't change things just to satisfy some rule - unless its a rule you want to follow. I enjoy your writings. I'd be willing to bet you a Texas Steak you'll go straight to best seller list with your first published novel.

Roll over Stephen King; Eric Trant is on his way. :)

Olivia J. Herrell said...

Eric, I LOVE your writing. If you need to do it in a cave, hey man, go for it! Just stick your head out every now and then so we know you're alive.

I could've SWORN when you came back from that brink-of-death camping trip you were done with revise-as-you-go writing. What happened?? (asked the woman whose slammed against the wall again...)

Chill dude. Write your way. If you don't, who will? No one. No one else can.

BTW, no one's getting their pretty hands on my ms till it's done, done I tell you!

~Olivia

Raquel Byrnes said...

Uh oh, I'm starting to feel self conscious now. Maybe I don't analyze enough?

I get the feeling I have the opposite problem...hmmm.

Eric W. Trant said...

Cat: I feel you. Blogging and over-thinking has a way of stifling my creativity. It's so addictive, though!

Donna: Perzactly what you said. A "what-if" thinker. That's me. I constantly think "what if" as I'm writing. If I like the answer, off I go in that direction. It's half proactive and half reactive. Thanks for the encouragement!

Olivia: I've been holding off on the blogging a bit. I got carried away with it. I'll still post, but probably not as voraciously. I have a close-knit group of friends I like to visit, now, so it makes it easier to get to the blogs you feel are meaningful to you both personally and professionally.

Raquel: This is why you are my sworn nemesis. You are my polar opposite. Not really, but it's a funny thought to go thinking.

- Eric

Christine H said...

Hey, Eric... I think I'm like you in that I need a cool idea, but not too constricted. I'm trying to suppress my internal critic and just write. I also look back at things I've changed and think perhaps I shouldn't have changed them.

I recall a contest on Nathan Bransford's blog where everyone was asked to be an agent for a day and respond to queries he put up from his slushpile. It was very eye-opening. The conclusion, after all the results were in, was that writers are much harder on each other than agents are on them.

Contrary to popular belief.

Christine H said...

Correction: the queries were submitted by people participating in the contest, with a few from the slushpile and a few that had actually been chosen by real agents for publication. The goal of the contest was to pick the "real life winners" from the hundreds of other entries.

Eric W. Trant said...

Christine: What a great experiment on the NB site! I will say this: The critiques I've gotten online, what few I've solicited, were far more brutal than I've received from professional editors.

The thing is that readers forgive things like head-skipping POV. I just finished a Robert McCammon book full of head-skipping, and am reading Neil Gaiman's Anansi Boys. Mr. Gaiman skips and skips and skips. He summarizes, slips into narrative omni, into one character, omni, another character, and then BAM! he shuts that chapter with an omni story-time about Anansi the Spider.

It's wonderful stuff and not the least bit confusing. His online crit group might've strung up and skinned him for it.

Indeed, your fellow writers -- and yea verily, your inner voice -- are by far your worst critics.

- Eric

sarahjayne smythe said...

Nah, no rant here. I'm kinda out of rants at the moment. And everything I've touched recently in terms of writing seems kinda dead, and the voices are quiet, so no worries there. I'm thinking I'll just hang out in my own little corner and enjoy the solitude.

Crimey said...

Eric, I have too many rants to share, but I think most of your rant applies to the rest of us at some point or another. Ranting is okay, let's say it together now, "ranting is okay!" That's the spirit.

Catherine A. Winn said...

We seem to be going through the same thing. Today, my WIP sent me in another direction. I did not want to go there! If I do, too much has to be revised. So, I printed up what I have, and shoved IT into a cave. I'm going to work on some other things and when I pull it out again, hopefully I'll know which way to go.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Why do you skip rants? Sometimes those are a blogger's best posts. I enjoyed yours, although the Death Scene Blogfest was even more interesting. I burst out laughing when I read the P.S.