My writer friend Michelle recently posted the following infographic on her blog. It resonated with me, and so I’m sharing it, with her permission. (You may use it too–she says so! Honest!)
I’ve mentioned in the past that the so-called inspiration that comes to me in my half-awake state is almost always, if not always-always, laughable when seen in the light of day. So I couldn’t fully relate to the first part of this scenario. Not as far as good ideas coming to me as I drop off to sleep, anyway.
I’m more apt to come up with good story ideas while I’m doing something else. Something that occupies one part of my conscious mind while giving the creative part freedom to roam. Like washing dishes or pulling weeds or painting a wall. But the point is, I do get an idea now and then, and as illustrated above, I work on it mentally for a while before I sit down and try putting it into words. The Inspiration, Vision, and Genius phases are three of my close acquaintances.
And so, inevitably, is Disaster.
I’m not sure why, but the clearest, most gripping scenario in my mind often doesn’t work when I try to write it. Quite a few plans I’d had for the story I’m currently working on have had to be either scratched or dramatically changed in order for things to make sense.
But that’s okay. This is fiction; if the facts don’t fit, then change the facts, right?
Well, that works to a degree. If you’re writing historical fiction, you can’t change history; that would shift it into the speculative category of alternative history. If you’re writing about the real world, you’ve got to keep all the natural laws intact. Otherwise, you’re writing fantasy.
In case you hadn’t guessed, that’s one reason I write speculative fiction: because I like to write my own history, create my own society. But even in a DIY world, things must be consistent. You can’t have elements changing their properties according to the whim of the moment. Just because something seems like it should work doesn’t mean it will once you lay it all out and see how the pieces fit together.
And then, as the above graphic points out, we writers often have trouble with the basic mechanics of writing. Even when we know what we want to convey, the words do not flow. We stammer on the page. Our sentences look like they were written by a five-year-old.
I think a five-year-old might have a better way with words than what I come up with some days.
So why do I do this to myself?
I have no idea. I keep praying that God would let me quit. I don’t care that I’ve invested untold hours and years of my life in this unprofitable venture; I’m ready to cut my losses. Turn my back on it once and for all and just walk away. Right now. Tell the world, Yeah, I thought I might be a writer, but I guess I was wrong. Let’s just forget it, shall we?
But every time I think that way, I get the impression of God lifting an eyebrow. Are you done with your whining? Yes? Good. Now, quit being such a baby and get back to work.
So that’s what I’m going to do once I publish this blog post. Get back to work on my current writing project. And then, after it’s finished, then maybe I can quit. Can I? Can I? Please?