Tuesday, February 18, 2014

And so it goes

30000 words now, or more precisely, 30002.
This does not mean that I am writing quickly. I actually started this way back last July. Then I was sick. Then my computer crashed (again). I was lent a laptop, which stopped working. In October I was given another computer. This has its eccentricities - eg, it likes to put an umlaut over vowels instead of quotation marks, and can be sneaky about capital letters.
After Christmas I did naught for some weeks. Got sick again. Had visitors.
30000 at this point of my not very thrilling plot is not enough. My story is at least half way through, so to reach the goal of 80000 I should be at circa 45000 by my reckoning.
Reading fiction more analytically, I can see how much of and usually how skilful the "padding" is.  Many plots could be summarised in a page or so, although the book may be 400 pages or often more. Very clever and difficult to maintain reader interest through this.
I know that I need to plump out my characters. And settings.  These make the story come alive, and they don't come naturally to me at all. Elizabeth Jane Howard said that she always easily visualised the scene that she was writing. Lucky her.
At present, I occasionally - think of the trees! - print out the pages. As I read through I make corrections, add bits etc. This is a tedious process.  When I allow myself to print the pages out again - which I need to do to check the "flow", I inevitably see more places where I need to add, subtract or multiply.  If I add 300 words each time I edit this way, I will need to do it 50 more times to make up my missing 15000. Or I need to add more plot twists. I don't think I have it in me. But maybe I do.
Tinkering can be a dangerous process. Was it Degas who used to borrow back sold paintings to fix them up a little? And then kept them for so long that sometimes the buyers had to steal them back again? And sometimes they had been so altered that the buyers could be in doubt as to which painting was theirs.
I did my stint as a housewife-painter, (see my avatar), and know that reworking, fixing something up a little, can take all the life out of it. 

As I am generally a "near enough, good enough" person, it tickles me that it matters to me to get this right and be happy with it.  I don't particularly expect it to be published - that would rather surprise me - so it is for my own satisfaction alone. We can be odd  bods indeed. Or perhaps I should only speak for myself. You may well be saner than I.

I have read a few "ördinary"fiction books which have elevated themselves into a higher category by citing the famous. Instead of saying, "It was a nice day," one says "It was a nice day, as Nietzche once said." I assume this makes people feel that they are reading something of intellectual significance.

Enough me, me, me. Writing is solitary but not necessarily lonely. I am interested in and enjoy other people, but can forget the pleasures of mingling.


Elephant's Child said...

I love that this is mattering to you. And firmly believe that more authors need to have that attitude.
I hope that both your illness and your computer woes are firmly in the past.

Frances said...

Thank you, EC.