Saturday, January 7, 2017

My Writing Process--Writing With Abandon

Lola doing what she does best: being
a bit odd.
This week, to be honest, I haven't gotten much writing done. For those of you who don't know me personally, my mother had a stroke a few weeks back. I live with my parents and so, in addition to my regular work chores, which were pretty crazy until Wednesday when grades were finally finished, I'm kind of in charge of our house now. I do all the cooking and what cleaning gets done while I'm at home. I'm also the main caretaker of my folks' dog, Lola. In between all that, I spend as much time as I can at the rehabilitation facility where my mom is working toward recovery. When I'm not doing all that, I spend some time thinking about silly things like mortality and the reality of someday having to live in a world without my parents, the two most important human beings in my life. So, frankly, writing hasn't been high on my list of priorities.
film strip photos photography images vintage oldschool That being said, I am finding at least a little bit of time to add to EJ's life story. And I find that I'm telling the whole darn thing, in surprising detail. Knowing full well that, just like movie directors shoot hours of footage that will ultimately end up on the cutting room floor, I will probably end up cutting out several of the pages I'm writing right now. And that's okay. Many of those pages are more for me than the reading audience, or at least they're for me more directly. What I mean is that I'm creating an entire world and life for this young lady that will be more meaningful to my readers if I am telling a story I know in great detail, even if I don't end up sharing all those details with the public. By writing with abandon, without worrying about whether this particular anecdote will end up in the finished product, I'm getting to know these characters so well that every detail I do share will be more real, more important, more impactful. 

road rural country trees afternoon travel roadtrip For instance, right now I'm telling about the time when EJ and her mother are stuck on the side of the road, having just bought what they thought was a reliable used car. Out of cell range, they are hoping someone they know will stop so they don't have to hike several miles home. Someone does stop, but it's not who they're hoping for. It's a man with whom they had a run-in just a couple of days after they moved to Bramblewood and pretty much the last person they would want to see. I don't know if the whole scene will make it into the final cut of the book, but their conversation as he gives them a ride is filling in more details about EJ's mother's life. And that's important because EJ is coming into a town that her mother Charlene grew up in but that she, EJ, knows little of. 
The trick with editing is what to leave in and what to take out. It's a balancing act between giving the reader too much detail, which can make for a ponderous, boring read, and too little, which can leave the readers feeling like they missed something. But the beauty of where I am in the writing process is that I don't need to worry about that right now. I can just tell the story in all the minute detail I want and leave that other stuff for the editor to worry about. I know I'm the editor, but I'm not the editor right now. I'm the writer and I don't care that in a few months when I start the editing process I'll be calling down the wrath of God on that crazy writer who just couldn't keep his mouth shut. That editor guy is a merciless hack who wants to kill my babies, so he deserves the angst I'm causing him.