Looking back

Two weeks ago, I barely wrote.

Worldcanwait, offered a link on her blog to the noveldoctor. He in turn offered some writing prompts. He gave three first sentences, and three last sentences, and asked us to choose one of each and write 400 words in between.

At around 10 pm on the night of the last submission something came to me and I wrote. You can read my little blurb and those of others here, should you choose. Point is, he got me writing. When I finished this little piece I was thrilled! It felt so good to have released this, to have written anything. I thought ‘how terrific’.

Yet, today when I saw it graciously posted, and I read it, I thought how flat. I remember writing it, but I don’t remember trying to create that! I found it stale, lifeless, void.

This afternoon, when I had a chance to settle down in front of the computer to write, I began by re-reading my last writing session. I remember when writing last Friday, that I was thinking, oh boy, all of this will have to re-written. It is dead. But, I wrote anyway, telling myself that at least the skeleton will be done. Yet, when I re-read today I was shocked to see how wonderful it was! It flowed, it moved, it was vibrant.

I had to ask, what is going on here?

Am I that bad a judgment when I am in the moment of my own work?

I would like to think not, but maybe at times the space we occupy is not the same as what we release. And vice-versa.

Yet, I also think that is comes back to character. The character I wrote through the eyes of in my little snippet for the noveldoctor was not someone I got to know well. I do not understand much about him, and I was only with him for the twenty or so minutes that I wrote. I also think, that once created, he began to grow and was no longer the same man that he was two weeks ago, which is why he seemed so unfamiliar to me.

The character in my novel is someone I know intimately (so to speak 🙂 ). I have been writing through her for a good year now. I am approaching the end of the first draft of this novel, and I know that when I re-read I will find a lot of things that are out of character from when I didn’t know her so well.

Teresa offers some great ways of getting to know your characters on her post here. It is amazing how these characters of ours live and breath. That we have to spend time with them to get to know them. They do not come prefab and nicely wrapped.


15 thoughts on “Looking back

  1. This is so true. I’ve been re-reading Part I of the novel I’m working on and found several places where I felt I missed the mark and understood better now how this character should act, think, or what she should say. Then again, I found places where I understood better now, why she did, thought, or said something.

    The relationship between character and writer is mysterious, isn’t it?

    1. Often times, Linda, I wonder how I could possibly make this stuff up! These characters, where do they come from?
      It almost feels like there is this big net that acts as a sieve allowing select events, people, emotions to filter through.
      (we agreed, right, that sounding insane is ok at times?)

  2. It’s amazing when you do a re-read. Sometimes I think wow I am brilliant and other times I think what the heck is that. It’s utter crap.

    Sometimes you just never know.

    1. You are right, Patti, one can never know.
      I think what surprised more than anything was that when I didn’t feel the rhythm that I liked the product. Usually, when it doesn’t flow it is event. This time it was not the case.
      Oftentimes, something that looks easy is hard to produce/achieve.
      In the end, though, this was a great learning experience. It taught me that even at times when I don’t feel it, I can make it work by working at it. Does that make sense?
      (I know, I ask that last quite often! lol)

  3. There are times when my writing feels stale as well, times when I can’t seem to make the words flow the way I want them to but I always know that the feeling will pass sooner or later.

    And you are right, as you keep writing you do learn more about your character. Even during my revision process with “Bitter, Sweet’ I had much more to learn. Sometimes it takes an editor to draw these things out of you.

    1. Interesting point about editors, Laura.
      I have only worked with one once with a short. I was petrified waiting for him to contact me – I had heard such terrible things about editors! – but it was a wonderful experience and actually left me thinking I would definitely like to do this again!

  4. That’s a good insight that it’s the depth of character knowledge that changes your writing.

    I wonder if it also has to do a bit with getting out of the way … the thinking it’s trite while writing and realizing later that it’s good as well as the sensation that it’s “good” while writing and seeing later it’s utter crap. Maybe, those feelings come from how much we’re “in the way”. (Not sure if this makes sense, but you got me thinking.)

    1. it does make sense, Cathryn! At least I think it does!
      I don’t usually think about whether my writing is good or bad while writing, well, not in those terms anyway. It is more a feeling of having things flow smoothly. If I have to stop and think and wonder, I usually know that it something is off. But, when it rolls, well, there is nothing quite like that feeling!

  5. I enjoyed your blurb Morgue. I thought your characters were well developed: brother eating off the mother’s leg showed him as cold and heartless, whereas the mc was sickened by the act. Good job.

  6. Thanks for the link! 🙂

    There are always times that you go back & realize that what you’ve written isn’t nearly as good as you thought at the time. And sometimes, perhaps I’m just second guessing myself, and I’m not quite sure if its good or not. It may actually be good, but I might be too subjective.

    I also sometimes wonder how much I can trust my own judgment when I absolutely love something I’ve written. When I read something I’ve written and it makes my heart beat faster or my eyes tear up just as it did when I wrote it, I wonder… Should I trust my instincts or is it just narcissism?

    1. Hi Jana! It is difficult isn’t it?
      Am I remembering my emotions from when I wrote, or are the words eliciting the response? I think that is one of the reasons time away from our own work is important.

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