Sunday, August 23, 2009

Writing Ease?

School started again and I am once again daydreaming about publication. It happens every semester. I read about so-and-so, who dropped out of college to write such-and-such famous literary masterpiece, and I wonder if--possibly--it would be smart for me to follow in their footsteps.

I mean, I like learning, but midterms aren't exactly my cup of tea. There's the procrastinating, and the studying, and the tests. Did I mention the studying? Did you know that studying is the combination of STUDENT + DYING?

It is not a pretty sight!

On a more serious note...I've reached the 16% mark on my novel. That's right. I've been working on my novel for the entire summer, and I have only written about 11,000 words. Nothing has ever been this hard to write before.

Usually, the first 10,000 or so words come easy. Not so with this WIP. I got the first chapter or two written, and then BAM! Right out of the blue, my muse waved and said it was going on vacation to Greece. "See you soon," it said, "or possibly in about fifty years when you need a cane and have false teeth. It depends on how I like the Mediterranean."

Right now, I'm hoping it got singed in the wildfires. That would teach it...

So, just out of pure I alone with this trial? How long does it usually take y'all to crank out a first draft? The first 10,000 words?


Sunday, August 9, 2009

Striving toward literary "perfection".

At one point in his eventful life, everybody's favorite capitalist--Benjamin Franklin--developed a plan to achieve perfection. In fact, he recorded his attempt in his autobiography--delineating the process by which he chose the "virtues" that together embodied perfection, as well as the method by which he hoped to obtain perfection in each of these virtues.

Such virtues as "moderation" and "humility" were used as examples--he planned to dedicate a set amount of time to each, and at the end of the total amount of time, he was quite certain he would be the embodiment of perfection.

Now, I may be going out on a limb here, but I think that Franklin's attempts are not at all dissimilar to our own. In fact, I think they are quite comparative.

As writers, we are attempting to create a "perfect" work of literature--perfect in the sense that somewhere, somehow an agent and or major publishing house will like it enough to back it, etc. etc.

Now, barring slightly erratic behavior and the (possibly delusional) belief that complete behavioral perfection can be attained in a matter of weeks, Franklin does have a point:

As much as we'd like to believe otherwise, writing a successful novel is not subject to chance, or the visitation of muse, or winning the lottery. It just isn't. At least, not completely. A successful novel can be written using a mystical method called hard, continuous work. Rear in chair. Fingers on keyboard. Nose in craft and writing books. Day in and day out.

Now, it may not happen in a matter of weeks, but like Franklin said, working steadfastly everyday will get you there eventually. In fact, it probably won't even take a lifetime. Maybe a year, maybe two. In some cases, ten--but those generally involve thick historical novels.

That said, the occasional fishing trip to Alaska, or all expense paid vacation to Greece couldn't hurt either. Just saying.