Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Seeing Text Vs. Thinking Text

I find that among the greatest writing dangers for me is to outthink a work in progress. When I catch myself trying to answer questions about a character, about that character’s motivations or thought processes, I get in trouble. Instead I must see. I must see an image, however incomplete, or a scene, or a character in action, or I must hear characters speaking. I only need shadows to write. Once I can see shadowy silhouettes, I can proceed, find the full scene, convey the moment or frozen image for which I have vision, and then, typically, doing so will allow me to see what I must see next or to power through a whole scene or even a chapter without too much thought. It is the translation of seeing through the vessel of the pen that matters, for the pen delivers the language on to the page. Once written, there remains a lot of work to be done, a great deal of development and revision and finessing, but as I then look back to move forward, I realize the logical questions now have answers. I don’t have to ask so many questions now for the people have stepped nearer to becoming whole and can supply the answers. For me, this is one of the great ironies about writing, for I am convinced that writing is about real clarity of thought and I pride myself on producing texts that develop ideas, but the only way forward into those ideas for me is not thinking too much. It is a matter of trust: trust in the self, trust in the medium, trust in the characters, and trust in the nature of the human story.

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