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bear by san

March 2017

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criminal minds fate

things were so much more simple when we didn't have a stitch

via slithytove, William Gibson is awesome.

...writer's block is my default setting. Its opposite is miraculous. The process of learning to write fiction, for me, was one of learning to almost continually be doing it *through* the block, in spite of the block, the block becoming the accustomed place from which to work. Our traditional cultural models of creativity tend to involve the wrong sort of heroism, for me. "It sprang whole and perfect from my brow" as opposed to "I saw it mispelled, in mauve Krylon, on the side of a dumpster, and it haunted me".

God, yes. That romaticization of process is so frustrating. I don't really get blocked--what I would call blocked--where you just can't write--all that often.

But I do find that writing is hard work, and the more I know about it the harder it gets. One reason for this, of course, is that in every other line of creative endeavor, when one finds a solution to a prickly problem, one has that solution in one's tool box for the future. But in narrative, every time the problem arises, you have to try to come up with a new and trickier solution.

Or fall back on formula--which does, I admit, have its places, and anybody who's taken a writing class from me knows that I think structure and formula are useful tools.

And some days, the brain just doesn't want to create. I've spent today paying bills and doing paperwork, because I just can't bring myself to write one more goddamned interview scene and I'm trying to find a postmodern way to handle it. What I really want is an 80s timelapse training montage. Or maybe a 60's I Spy footwork montage, with Kelly and Scotty trudging around Tokyo under reflected neon, wearing out shoe leather.

Preferably with stirring music. Now if I can just figure out how to do that in prose. So I am gathering my forces and considering my tactics.

It gets exhausting sometimes.

Comments

But in narrative, every time the problem arises, you have to try to come up with a new and trickier solution.

This, exactly. I've been trying to explain that to people for years, that it only gets harder, because every book demands a different route to the same achievement.
Yup.
Too bad you can't just put a note in the story:

At this point, close your eyes and imagine a 60's footwork montage in Tokyo, under reflected neon, to stirring music.

Did you ever read Mark Twain's suggestion about putting weather descriptions in stories?
"Did you ever read Mark Twain's suggestion about putting weather descriptions in stories?"

I have not, and now I'm deeply curious.
For me, blocked usually means "You have used up your creativity for the year. Pity there are still those drop-dead dates."
The whole sprang perfect thing pisses me the hell off.

When I was writing symphonic music, my mother would start going on about how I was a "vessel". Which is kind of like the sprang perfect bit, except it makes it explicit that not only did you not work for it, it's not yours.
When I was writing symphonic music

Heh. You say that so casually, just as though it weren't one of the hardest creative processes known to humankind...
I have read "narrative" that reads like an '80s film montage to me in more than one Stephen King novel; off the top of my head I'm thinking particularly of the ones he wrote with Peter Straub and The Stand. I think I've read others that did it differently but still pretty effectively. If I had a brain today I would list 90thousand billion examples and then you could top them all. But K. brain doesn't work today.

I would also like to do a montage in this letter regarding document requests, in which I am having to address each of these requests and a proposed compromise on scope individually. It would be so much better if this whole negotiation could be a montage, set to "get down to business" music.
Now I have an image of a 'writer's block' as a sort of anvil on which one has to hammer out new stories.

Which is really quite helpful.
Yes this.
I've often wished I could grade-by-montage, near the end of the quarter, just like teenagers in eighties movies could always study-by-montage.

-o-

Thanks for sharing this. I've often gone back and forth or whether or not I ever got writers' block, because other people talk about not being able to write at all. I can always write--it's just that I can't always write stuff that isn't crap.

That being said, sometimes it seems as though my subconscious knows when I'm writing something that is deeply wrong, and will need to be thrown out and rewritten, and it tends to put the breaks on my output until I go back and fix the underlying thing that's wrong--like maybe I've got a someone acting out of character or without any clear motivation. As soon as I zap that problem, the words start trickling again.
Some days I feel like I get writing done by shaming my Muse into making her feel lazy. As if she's saying, "You're going to go to the computer today anyway? All right, fine, I might as well come along too..."
That's *perfect*!
yeah. i cannot begin to describe how much i've been enjoying gibson's Q&As this past week or so.

"see, self?! you are not alone in feeling like this!"

and yet we both do it anyway.