Write on the Sound

Write on the Sound

The first step in my October writing odyssey is the Write on the Sound conference in Edmonds. It’s been around a while, but this was the first that I’d heard of it. I am hoping to make a few contacts with writers in the Seattle area. I have made plenty in Bellingham, but my heart still belongs to Seattle. This year I can walk with my head held high, knowing that I have a published book under my belt. It has helped my confidence. I’ve committed to a path that I had spent years avoiding, and I’m getting recognition for what I did.
The irony of it all is that in spending this month deeply involved in the writing community, I’m not writing. I’m barely managing to sneak in 500 words a day, which by my standard is the equivalent of writing nothing. And maybe that’s not fair to myself, but I think you have to have some kind of standard, especially when writing. It’s very easy to say, “I have a great idea for a novel.” It’s very hard to say, “I’ve written a novel.”
Word count notwithstanding, I remain excited about my opportunities. Some classes I’m taking are going to enrich my career. How to Find an Agent, or Using Social Media. Then, there are classes to help work on my writing. How Stories are Told, etc. Then there are the purely fun classes, like “Food and Wine Writing.” (And yes, that’s my idea of fun! Don’t judge me.)
Then there’s been the adventure of getting there. I feel as though there will be a There and Back Again: A Writer’s Story post in my future. I could tell you how I plan on doing it, but I think the fun will be in explaining how well things went according to plan.
This whole month is a month of waiting. It’s the hardest part of looking forward to something. The pure distraction as the event approaches. And I can tell you that when I’m getting out of bed at five o’clock in the morning to get rolling on Saturday, I’m certainly going to be asking myself what I was waiting for, and why not go back to bed. But it will be worth it.
And, if it’s not worth it, then let’s hope that it’ll be funny later, when I’m relating the tale.

Come Fly the Pants Skyway

I discovered recently that there are two methods of writing, and just like in any other faction, everyone insists that their way rules and the other way drools.

First, let me explain the two philosophies in brief, so you understand what I mean. First, there are the ‘Pantsers.’ Charmingly short for, “Flies by the seat of your pants.” These writers are riding the right brain highway, using their creativity as their sole guide through the process.

Next, there are the ‘Plotters,’ and as their name suggests, they like to plot and plan. They are the strategists, the types who use flow charts, character profiles, and a lot of pre-work to begin their story.

I am a pantser. That’s all I’ve really ever known how to do. I shaped the stories in my head and got them down on paper. There are all kinds of panters – poets, short story fiction, even novelists.  It’s a romantic notion, flying by the seat of your pants. The idea of creating an entire world inside your mind, and giving it life, is terrifying and delightful.

Having written two novels this way, I can also tell you it’s exhausting. Pantsers are prone to writer’s block and frustration when a character doesn’t stay consistent. Great ideas can be lost when one has to sleep or go to work, and not many of us have the luxury of being uninterrupted all day. Plots that sound great in your head often find ways of dissolving into unintelligibility on paper, as you scratch your head and wonder what exactly you wanted to convey.

So, I’m defecting. I’ve flown the Pants Skyway, and it’s hard.

Plotting is hard too, but it’s organized.  Time is spent examining the story from all angles, and jotting down notes so that later, you can go back and reference, and spark your memory about what the Bad Guy was supposed to do or what the Device is used for. It requires a lot of focus, but it’s also a creative endeavor. Writer’s Block and frustration can bedevil this process, as well, but having notes to riff from helps overcome those obstacles.

Of course, I have no idea whether this shift will be an improvement for my work, but I believe it will. I certainly think it’s worth a try.