Posts Tagged writing process

Petals and pistils, pedals and pistols: stories from the wild.

time of year has come: riotous abundance, whichever way you look.

Bottom of the lawn.

Native flame azalea.

The astonishing strategies evolved to propagate as each generation pays forward for the next.

Potted plant.

Gerbera daisy.

There’s manipulation, of course — to enlarge flowers or fruits or flavors — bending the wild beginnings. And there’s cultivation — to optimize conditions for growth.

The low bush.

Calycantha (plural?)

When you build a book, the wild world is everything you’ve ever seen, your inventory of images and persons and events. Of course you can make up stuff, if it’s true. The work of writing is to manipulate and cultivate the wild ingredients until you’ve folded them in and teased your new story into being. Your story is from the wild world, but not of it.

Low bush.


When you think you’re done, release your story back into the wild to test if it still is true. Probably it needs work. Probably a lot.  Rinse, repeat, rejoice.


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Character driven.

      Whenever I’ve gotten seriously stuck in a story, almost always it is a character who takes my hand and leads me through. Generally it’s a character already established in the story, with all the attributes necessary to solve the problem already attributed. An author has to trust the characters, and sometimes get out of their way.

      We make up the stories, to begin with. But once underway a true story (true fiction) will be found to contain what its telling takes. The characters, once set in motion, in a context, live out their tale. Authors are not stenographers for a muse. But that’s often not a terrible metaphor for the first draft of a story. Nor are we editors who clean up the wordy mess the muse has spewed, unreadalbe until tightened and focused, or who flesh out the telegraphic hints the muse has tapped onto the wire. But sometimes it feels that way.

      There’s never any help, taking the first to the finished draft. That’s all on us. And it is a long, long grind: letter by letter, word by word, paragraph by paragraph, chapter by chapter. You don’t do it once. You do it relentlessly, over and over. Ten times, end to end, is probably a good average number of passes.

      By the time all that’s done, we have no doubt our names belong on the cover. But sometimes, during that wild giddy wondorous first phase, we’re sure we should be sharing the credit with … well, somebody or something not entirely of our making.

      But then we think how dumb it would sound, to share with our own characters. Dumb, except maybe to another author.

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