Posts tagged novels
Revision: Even Good Writers Write Badly.

 Thank God I'm not a brain surgeon. Do you have any idea how many times daily I have to call a do-over? My patients would not be happy (or alive, for that matter). But that is, as Cormier puts it, the beautiful thing about writing. You don't have to get it right the first time. Or the second. Or the third... You get my point.

After finishing chapter 20 in my current novel, Ourselves and Others, my momentum went dead. The fire flickered and blew out, spluttered into sparks as I tried to get it going again, then stubbornly stayed extinguished. My interest has been at level zero. I started brainstorming a new novel out of sheer boredom, and honestly I've been afraid I would move on from OaO and never come back. 

But finally, I recognized the problem: I didn't get it right the first time. The Chapter 20 I wrote is not the Chapter 20 the story needs. I've been fighting against the current of the plot when I should've been letting it pull me along. Now that my mind is oriented in the direction the story needs to go, I'm excited again. I want to work and get this tale told. The chapter 20 I wrote might end up as chapter 26 or 27, or it might not make it back at all. Either way, I'm calling a do-over.

Don't be afraid to go back a chapter, to cut and rewrite, or to eliminate altogether. Revise, revise, revise. You may be a good writer, but just because a good writer wrote something doesn't mean it's good. We all write junk sometimes—even the very best of us. So write a second draft, or a third, or a tenth. Do whatever you need to do to make your writing the best it can be. It's not brain surgery, after all. ;)

Today's Prompt: Write a short story from the perspective of the patient of an obviously clumsy neurosurgeon.

Happy Writing


Redefining Literature (Quote of the Day)

I grew up considering literature to be the kind of works I read in English class: Romeo and Juliet, The Scarlet Letter, Catcher in the Rye. Even In my free time, I enjoyed similar works (and still do). My taste has always been broad, however, so I also liked other things. More "commercial" things, like Pendragon, Harry Potter, and pretty much anything else I could get my book-loving hands on. I loved to read. I would read toilet paper packages if there was nothing else around. Instruction manuals. Nutrition facts. And in my mind, I knew these things were "literature," but they weren't… Literature.  Please read that last word in a snobby-sounding, accented voice, because that's totally how I said it.

Merriam-Webster appears to agree with Growing-Up Me on that:

So there's literature, and then there's less-than-literature. We even make a distinction between "literary" and "commercial" fiction, as though one is related to literature and the other is simply business-based, somehow; as though their intrinsic value relates to different things.

Well. Since leaving the academic world, I've learned a thing or two, and I have to say to Merriam-Webster, Growing-Up Me, and most of my English teachers/professors:

Literature (snobby accent again) is not the only literature out there. It's not the only type of writing with literary value. I've seen blog posts more beautiful than some canonized works. There have been advertisements that made me cry. There's even been—yes—graffiti that made me think more intensely than Dickens or Hemingway could (not that I don't dig those two, because I do).

Don't get me wrong; I'm not one who thinks all art is created equal. Obviously there are some works that are better than others. But who decides that? And who decided that means that only the "best" are literature and the rest are tossed into the not-quite-literature-but-almost pile? The truth is that anything written can be beautiful and worthwhile, because language in itself is beautiful and worthwhile—no matter the format.

Today's Prompt (if you're brave enough): Go graffiti something. If you're not brave enough or have other constraints: Write a story in which someone graffitis something.

Happy Writing!