Monday, April 21, 2008

Seeking the BAM! And Foot-in-Mouth Syndrome.

At the start of every new project, I suddenly start analyzing "How I Write."

I think this is because, at the end of every project, I suddenly feel this emptiness, this void, and this fear that I have forgotten how to write. So I dive into self-analysis to remember how I write, and I realize that I've forgotten how I, say, came up with my idea. Usually I just sit down and write and out they spill.

That's hardly any comfort when staring at fear.

A lot has spilled into my spy thriller, mostly the arc and conflicts of my two main character's relationship.

But I haven't found the BAM.

Or maybe I have.

I have quite a few novellas that people told me I wrote in an unexpected way, or came up with an original hook, or something "unlike anything they've read in the genre." The thing is, I didn't feel they were that original at ALL. I'm talking, I felt the ideas were just run of the mill, and they were obvious to me. Maybe they were new to the publisher, but not new if you look at the big picture.

I've always considered myself a writer whose strength lies more in the execution than the idea. I mean, EVERYTHING's been done before. Sometimes I feel I pull a little of this and a little of that.

I see the roots of my story so clearly, that I fear everyone else can, too. I know my execution is completely different and that I've altered nearly everything. I know I make an effort to see what the reader expects and then twist it, but in the end ... it all feels so obviously the way I'd do it, that it's not original to me.

Knowing thyself is hard.

On another note, I have great pity for authors who stick their foot in their mouth. Or who get their foot shoved in their mouth by the petty dramatists around.

Still, when I read this comment by I.J. Parker at Crime Fiction Dossier, I read it five times to see if the feelings of offense in me were skewing his meaning:

On the whole, I'm getting sick of the mass of
mysteries that were written specifically to make
women feel good about themselves. Clearly
their sales success proves that most female
readers need such encouragement.

Huh?

Moving on.

So do you 'know thyself' when it comes to writing? Or is much of it shrouded in mystery and hazy memory? And do you feel that all your writing is, despite your best efforts, obvious? Do you recognize your own originality? Or does it feel banally normal to you?

6 bonus scribbles:

StarvingWriteNow 4/21/2008 04:46:00 PM  

Wow... that comment about "women mysteries" was kinda harsh! Though I'm not sure what they need encouragement for--to start reading mysteries?

People can be so ignorant.

On to other things: I think I'm more of an idea type, but I"m not sure.

PS: Now that DH has returned, is your Borders schedule back on track? How is NEORWA?

Avery 4/21/2008 04:54:00 PM  

I could swear the majority of this post was written by me. I have the same fears, "I think I forgot how to write a whole book," and the whole, "everything's been done before," angst. Seriously, you could be my twin right now.

I know I'm a lazy writer, a procrastinator. But, when the fire blazes, there's no stopping me--or talking to me, or getting dinner...That's when the Architect suffers the most from my work.

I worry a lot about the obviousness of my stories, so much so that I go to great lengths to twist and turn the plot--and then wonder when it's done if I made any sense at all.

Edie 4/21/2008 08:48:00 PM  

I don't know if I'd say harsh. Parker's comments came across to me as bitter and envious.

I'm envious of you, Spy, for being able to "just sit down and write and they spill out." My words usually bleed out, especially in the beginning.

I try to be fresh, but I'm sure most of what I write has been done before. I'm just putting my twist on it. I hope. My favorite times while writing are when I get those twists. If they surprise me and at the same time feel right, I'm hoping it means it will be the same for the reader.

spyscribbler 4/22/2008 03:19:00 PM  

Yeah, really. I don't think they're written to make women feel good about themselves. And if they are, then no more so than male mysteries are written to make men feel good about themselves. I mean, come on ...

Borders is on track! Except the next two Fridays and Saturdays are kaputt with piano studio stuff.

I didn't renew my RWA membership. The only reason I'll renew it is if I can make the meetings for NEORWA, which I can't seem to. :-( I wish I could!

spyscribbler 4/22/2008 03:23:00 PM  

Avery, yes, yes, yes! Ohmigosh, that's my emotional process precisely! Every bit of what you said! We are twins, LOL!

Edie, I still don't know how to take it. He can't really believe that, can he? I hope not. I thought we were done fighting for equal respect.

It seems to come last in the arts. Just look at the Gumshoe Awards. All men, right? The Oprah Book Club: like 90% of her picks have been men.

It's enough to make you start asking yourself, do men write better books?

LOL ... at the beginning, it's more like when I pour cereal and it's a little stuck and I have to paw at it to get it to spill out. Once I get to 10,000 or 15,000, or sometimes 20,000, then it starts flowing.

Liz Wolfe 4/22/2008 04:32:00 PM  

I was just talking to The Husband yesterday about a plot element and telling him that all my plot elements seem so freaking obvious to me. I was wondering if they really are not obvious to the reader or does the reader just enjoy the ride and ignore that they might know what's coming?
And that comment? Yeah, a little offensive.