19 August 2014
things in reverse
It's funny how things work in reverse sometimes. For me, editorial process has always been monumental. In photography, and writing, and everything else. I got to thinking about this because, of these snapshots, about half were taken spontaneously. As for the remaining half, I had made a new filter in lightroom, and, picking up my camera, I could mentally apply that editorial effect. I could see how it played with the image -- in a few cases, changed it drastically -- and thus snapped an image, not for its own sake per se, but to be played with. It sort of rendered the image an object of curiosity all its own.
Where am I going with this? Oh, that is ever the question. I have been trying -- so far, knock on wood, successfully! -- to be more disciplined about creative writing. And the process is as important to me as the production. And so, I often find myself studying others' writerly processes. There are the less prolific day-to-day Jack Kerouacs who gut their souls in short, inspired sittings. There are the disciplinarians -- Steven King comes to mind -- who map out plots, and write deliberately, always making sure their stories are effective, hemmed in. There are the writers who write and write and write, and then delete and transpose massive chunks. There are writers who write exactly 1,000 words per day -- rain or shine, unaffected by their heightened or waning imaginations -- they write to make sure they've written. Joan Didion has said she doesn't feel terribly connected to her first novel -- that she didn't knew exactly what she was doing at the time, how to be true to the ideas in her head. Ah, but she wrote it, and what that sparked! Then there are the writers who pain over single words and sentences -- minute fractions of the thing, one at a time -- and then continue on.
I'm very much in the camp of those latter writers -- who tweak and prod in absolute, unending agony. But I'll be sure to make my word count, too -- it just sometimes takes me all night. It is a rather unfortunate combination, but I've a strong conviction that seven hours of work that yields one perfectly-formed sentence or image is worth the three pages of rubbish.
My editorial process inspires me in a backwards sort of way -- chasing that elusive white rabbit of a story (or, more, a tiny part of one). It kicks in, rears its glorious, angry head at the line level. Oh, that I could suspend its appearance until I finish a paragraph, or a page! I am eternally envious of writers who can write more freely, who can find the write words later, who can fill in the blanks...
Oh, but then I wouldn't be me.