In today’s Journal
* Nothing good in literature
* WITD and Cycling
* Readers are different
* All of that being said
* Some good songs
* Of Interest
* The Numbers
A couple of days ago I wrote that “Nothing good in literature ever came from the conscious, critical mind.” Given that “good” resides in the eye of the beholder and given that we can never know how good a plotted work might have been had it been written into the dark, I’ll stand by my statement.
A friend emailed me part of an article (copied and pasted) from Quora that offered an example of a carefully planned-out work of fiction.
I read what he sent. But one, I’ve never heard of the author mentioned in the article (French writer Georges Perec) or any of his books, and two, we have only the author of the article’s word that the book in question was “four years in the planning.”
You can see at least part of the article by going to https://poetryintheraw.quora.com/What-major-literary-work-was-carefully-planned-out-in-advance and scrolling down to Alex Johnston (should be the first answer).
WITD and Cycling
While I was poking around Quora and looking, I also found this question and answer:
“Q: What major literary work was carefully planned out in advance?
“A (from Alex Jouravlev): I am surprised nobody mentioned the Harry Potter series. It has so many easter eggs, some very careful planning is definite.”
ANNND THIS is exactly why English teachers believe (and teach) that writers must outline and plot and plan. The teacher takes a book apart, finds “easter eggs” and the like, and assumes the easter eggs, etc. must have all been planned in advance.
But that simply isn’t true. Ms. Rowling might well have plotted and planned the Potter books in her series, but not necessarily.
When I write, my characters often do unexpected things. I’ve mentioned this before.
If in Chapter 23, Aunt Marge suddenly pulls her deceased husband’s .38 snub nose revolver from the pocket of her housecoat at 2 a.m. and threatens the stranger in her living room, well, then that’s what happens so that’s what I’ll write. Never mind that I have no idea how the .38 got into the pocket of her housecoat in the first place. But that’s one of the great things about WITD and cycling.
Unstuck in time and cycling—so still in the creative subconscious—I’ll drift back to Chapter 19 or wherever Aunt Marge first awoke to odd sounds in the house. And as she gets out of bed, I’ll show her donning her housecoat, then reaching into the drawer in the nightstand to grab her dead husband’s revolver and slip it into her pocket.
Then I’ll smugly scroll back to where the white space starts and continues writing what the characters say and do and what occurs as a result. The key is that all of this is done while in the creative subconscious mind.
The point is, readers are different than writers. If a story is well written, readers will be stuck-in and pulled along by the timeline of the story. They jump in at the beginning and read straight through to the end. Because of that progression, they’ll assume the writer is a genius, that every easter egg, red herring, and plot twist and turn was carefully planned.
But stories don’t have to be written from Point A to Point Z. They only have to appear to have been written like that. Unlike the reader, the writer ISN’T stuck in the timeline of the story. The writer can move forward and back in the story at will and remain in the creative subconscious as s/he does so.
Okay, all of that being said, honestly I’m not sure why how others write or don’t write even matters much to me. It doesn’t really. After all, I’ve mostly defeated the myths and my own critical voice, so why should I care?
The only thing I can figure is that I’ve Been There (mired in the myths), am Now Here (WITD), and want to share the joy. I know better than to believe I can convince anyone, and really I’m not trying to.
I’m only saying “Here, take a look at this. It’s very freeing, it costs you nothing, and it can give you everything. All that’s required is that you honestly try it.” Then if they try it, great. If they don’t, at least I showed it to them.
There are some good songs/videos about driving at The Passive Voice today. See http://www.thepassivevoice.com/.
Talk with you again later.
See “The Wet Blanket Reality… Chapter One” at https://www.deanwesleysmith.com/the-wet-blanket-reality-chapter-one/.
See “Indie Presses Have to Partner Up” at https://www.thepassivevoice.com/indie-presses-have-to-partner-up/. See PG’s hilarious (and spot-on) comments.
See “Navigating Self Doubt” at https://www.thepassivevoice.com/navigating-self-doubt/. If you aren’t living under a rock, I’ve given you the key to escape self-doubt over the past few days, not to mention the past few years. Self-doubt comes from your critical mind. Laugh at it and tell it to shut up. It will go away.
The Journal…………………………………… 820 words
Writing of WCGN 5: Tentative Title (novel)
Day 1…… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX
Total fiction words for August……… XXXX
Total fiction words for the year………… 623282
Total nonfiction words for August… 10740
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 165960
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 789242
Calendar Year 2021 Novels to Date…………………… 13
Calendar Year 2021 Novellas to Date……………… 1
Calendar Year 2021 Short Stories to Date… 3
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 66
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 8
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 217
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31
Disclaimer: In this blog, I provide advice on writing fiction. I advocate a technique called Writing Into the Dark. To be crystal clear, WITD is not “the only way” to write, nor will I ever say it is. However, as I am the only writer who advocates WITD both publicly and regularly, I will continue to do so, among myriad other topics.