In today’s Journal
* I’m Back!
* Topic: Pure Writing Into the Dark
First, welcome to r2zajac and any other recent new subscribers. You picked a good time to drop in. (grin)
I’m not bragging here folks. I’m celebrating. I just felt like sharing this good news with my friends. Starting Blackwell Ops 8, my current novel, has been nothing short of restarting my life as a fiction writer after a very long 10 months.
I’ve written five or six different openings for this novel, and I struggled with all of them. It was like pulling teeth. (That isn’t how it’s supposed to be. If you’ve ever been there, keep reading.)
I kept wanting to reword what I’d written, fix it, blah blah blah. All of that was because it wasn’t working, which means the story wasn’t flowing of its own accord, as happens when you simply look in on your characters and record what’s going on, what’s being said and done.
I kept showing up, kept opening the file, kept slogging away at it, but nothing clicked — until I finally decided yesterday to move forward, not back. I exercised the nuclear option.
I highlighted everything I’d written up to that point. I cut it, then pasted it at the end of the manuscript in a section labeled CUTS. (I wrote the words, so they counted in my daily writing, but they won’t be in the novel when it’s finished.)
Then I put the cursor on the first line below Chapter 1 and started to write a new opening, and — it took off! (grin) Maybe I finally convinced my creative subconscious that I’m back to stay. Maybe the characters finally trust that, so they’re willing to share their stories with me again.
Anyway, two hours and twenty-five hundred words later (a blazing fast [grin] 20 words per minute), I had to stop for the day. This morning, I’ll drop in on the characters as they gather for Chapter 4, and I couldn’t be more excited.
I feel very much like I felt before August 6, 2021, and I can’t begin to tell you how good that is. Finally, finally, I’m back. And it’s great to be here.
Topic: Pure Writing into the Dark
Matt P emailed to ask what I mean when I say I take on the persona of the character I’m writing at the time. Here’s my expanded response:
It’s pure writing into the dark. I literally write every word through the POV character’s physical and emotional senses. (It took a long time for me to “get” that every word of a story should come through the POV character and not from the writer.)
If I start to feel “stuck,” I tell my conscious, critical mind to shut up and leave me alone, and I write the next sentence that occurs to me from the character. Then I write the next sentence and the next, and very soon the story is racing along again.
I don’t add anything or take anything away as myself, the author, because I’m not the author. I’m only the recorder, writing down what the POV charcter sees, hears, smells, tastes, feels (physically and emotionally), says and does.
I recognize all the characters as separate individuals. I can’t honestly say whether they live in my creative subconscious or whether they live in another dimension and I’m able somehow to pull back a curtain and look in on them now and then.
But neither does it matter. What matters is that they are living a story that I’m not living, and theirs is more exciting. My story is not their story, and their story is not mine. I’m only recording it for them.
In my own story at the moment, I’m sitting at a keyboard adding a few words to a Journal entry before I copy it and paste it into the Journal website. A little later in my own story, I’ll continue at a keyboard, recording what happens in my characters’ story. At other times of the day in my story, I’ll feed my neighbors’ horse, maybe go to the grocery and to check the mail, etc.
But in the current story I’m recording for my characters, Blackwell Ops Agent Philip Dunstan is anticipating meeting a young woman (the niece of his matronly apartment manager) who ostensibly wants to do for a living what he does: work for TJ Blackwell.
I can only barely wait to get back to the story to see what’s going to happen today. Knowing Dunstan and TJ and their situation, there’s an excellent chance Dunstan will receive another assignment soon too.
But who knows? Like everyone else, I just have to wait to see what will happen. Maybe he’ll get another assignment, maybe he won’t. Maybe the young woman is who she seems, and maybe she isn’t.
And this is how it must be, at least for me. What you do, how you write, is up to you. But I’m in it for the fun and for the escape. My story was exciting in the past, but these days it’s a humdrum routine. But my characters’ stories —now those are exciting!
There’s an old saying in writing: no surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader. But when you’re simply recording another person’s story (not composing it or making it up or manipulating it), you have no way of knowing what will happen next. Under those conditions, how can you not be continually surprised?
Talk with you again soon.
See “3D-Printed Ear” at https://interestingengineering.com/3d-printed-human-ear-transplanted. SF become S Fact, anyone?
See “E-skin that can feel pain…” at https://www.gla.ac.uk/news/headline_852760_en.html.
See “California court rules that bees are a type of fish…” at https://www.insider.com/bees-officially-type-of-fish-california-judges-ruling-endangered-species-2022-6. Sure. If what it actually is doesn’t suit you, call it something else.
The Journal…………………………………… 910 words
Writing of Blackwell Ops 8 (tentative title, novel)
Day 1…… 2371 words. Total words to date…… 2371
Day 2…… 1305 words. Total words to date…… 3676
Day 3…… 1107 words. Total words to date…… 4783
Day 4…… 1201 words. Total words to date…… 5984
Day 5…… 1872 words. Total words to date…… 7856
Day 6…… 2505 words. Total words to date…… 10361
Total fiction words for June……… 4377
Total fiction words for the year………… 16154
Total nonfiction words for June… 2030
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 82640
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 98794
Calendar Year 2022 Novels to Date…………………… 0
Calendar Year 2021 Novellas to Date……………… 0
Calendar Year 2021 Short Stories to Date… 0
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 66
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 8
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 217
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31
Disclaimer: I advocate a technique called Writing Into the Dark. I’ve never said WITD is not “the only way” to write, nor will I ever. However, as I am the only writer who advocates WITD both publicly and regularly, I will continue to do so, among other topics.