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bear by san

December 2021



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bear by san

Chelsea Polk

Still a scary genius:

Smart thoughts on writing here:


What a clear and compassionate view of the process.

This seems to exemplify the transtion between what another writer friend calls Writing what you know to </i>Writing what you know from experience</i>.

Yes, I think so. Which I tend to call "writing what you know" vs. "knowing what you write."
So that's what's going on...

I sold the first half dozen or so things I sent out, almost immediately. Poems, articles, short stories. Haven't sold *any*thing in a year, though I'm aiming at larger markets than I started in. Still, it's nice to hear from someone else about the process involved.

Critical mass...
I was just telling a friend, "You know, it's all the same thing. Willis' 'Critical mass' and King's 'Million words of shit' and Gardner's 'Good, now go write for ten years.' And 'writers write' and 'if you don't quit, you'll make it'"

It's the apprenticeship.

And it's work.

I hate that. *g*
Yes, writers need to practice, too. Going back to the warm up and cool down metaphor, muscians (classically trained for the purpose of this example) warm up with scales. It helps them adjust their instrument to the right pitch, it warms up their fingers and/or lungs. When an orchestra starts out with that hubbub of noise, it's the muscians way of tuning themselves to each other (they've already warmed up before they take to the stage).

Even though a writer is an individual soloist, the need for tuning is still necessary.

There are some writers who are able to warm up and "tune" themselves in the time and space it takes them to sit down at their keyboard; and then there are others who still struggle daily with putting together a novel.

Writing, like all other arts, doesn't happen overnight. We still continue to master language and story as we age--conveying an idea on paper is a difficult art to master because there is so much room in which to spread out. A wind instrument in the key of C can only play a limited amount of notes in a limited way. It was designed for a single purpose. Even the voice is limited (although there are several impressive singers with more than one range). A baritone is unable to hit the high notes a soprano might reach.

Perhaps writers are too hard on themselves?
Perhaps writers are too hard on themselves?

If you will forgive an interpolation here, I think sometimes it is not a matter of expectation, but of perception: the writer who has passionately submerged self into the white fire of composition sometimes expects that intensity to convey itself from the text without leaving themselves the chance to look at that text and see what it really says.

Nabokov says:

The Russian language, which otherwise is comparatively poor in abstract terms, supplies definitions for two types of inspiration: vostorg and vdokhnovenie, which can be paraphrased as “capture” and recapture.” The difference between them is mainly of a climactic kind, the first being hot and brief, the second cool and sustained

What I understand by that is the ability to evaluate the text as text, divorcing it from the author's passion and experience. That white-hot composition might very well have led the author to dash down descriptions in the most florid of cliches and then fire it off to an editor before the emotions cool, thinking that those emotions somehere adhere to the text, yet it is only in the coolness of the second stage that the writer can identify the infelicities of first draft and recast them in good prose that can then spark that white fire in the reader.
True. There are many times when a write becomes so caught up in the work, the writer is unable to separate from the prose. That's when a good objective and constructive eye may help the writer winnow the weak spots.

I'm a great supporter of the constructive read by someone who has not been sitting with the writer day in and day out (e.g. not a significant other).
*nod* and also what Bradbury talks about, the process of packing the brain with new material to process.