Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Wisdom of Madeleine L'Engle

Madeleine L'Engle was perhaps one of the most beloved writers of our time. She is most well-known for her book, A Wrinkle in Time (which I read long ago, but barely remember - must remedy that). However, she also wrote a book on writing and Christianity that has a lot of wonderful insights on creativity. Called Walking on Water, it delves into some of the deepest issues that writers and writers of faith face. I'm reading it for the first time right now and really enjoying it.

The following quotes by L'Engle, though, speak to every type of creative person.

"Inspiration usually comes during work, rather than before it."

"Artistic temperament sometimes seems a battleground, a dark angel of destruction and a bright angel of creativity wrestling."

I experienced both of them in the last two days. Monday night, I decided to sit down and write despite feeling yucky with allergies and a pounding headache. I wasn't quite sure what I was going to write, only that I needed to. 

I started writing a scene that I liked, then realized it would work better in another part of the book. So I cut it, planning to paste it somewhere else. However, due to my befuddled brain (likely caused by the misnomer of 'non-drowsy' allergy medicine), I accidentally cut and pasted something else and ended up deleting the entire scene altogether.


I sighed, muttered a few choice words, then decided there was nothing to do but rewrite the scene. But I started writing the scene again, and this time, inspiration struck, and the scene was much better than the first time around. 

Madeleine was spot on: inspiration comes during the work

Since my allergy symptoms had abated somewhat, I decided to tackle the novel against last night. I also naively thought I'd opened up the floodgates on writing. I was wrong.

Every word I wrote was agonizing. I couldn't get it to work. Yet I knew exactly what I wanted out of the scene. I deleted a whole swath of words and that helped, but it really was like I was battling between destruction and creativity.

Once again, L'Engle's quote was spot on.

In this writing gig, it helps to know that those who went before us and succeeded in the writing business were not so very different from us. They struggled with writing just like we do. 

Which is why community is so important among writers. It helps to know we're not alone.

Thank you, Madeleine L'Engle, for your words of wisdom.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

A Respite

It's in the low 70s here today.

I am wearing my favorite outfit: jeans, a Victorian blouse, a blue sweater, and my black Oxfords.

Yes, jeans AND a sweater.

I walked downtown to get my lunch and the cool breezes felt heavenly.

Can you say bliss?

The weekend is supposed to bring more of the same, which means I should get a lot of writing done as this is my Optimal Writing Weather.

Hot summer days are probably still ahead - after all, we are in the dog days of summer with August and September, but if we can get these cool days interspersed with the hot ones, I'll be ok. (I think). But if the weather would like to stay this cool until, oh, next June, why, that would be fine with me!

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Brain Fog

We all have times when we can't think of the right word. Usually, it comes to us after a bit of thought. Sometimes, like what has been happening with me lately, it just stays covered under a thick blanket of fog.

Maybe it's my hormones, maybe it's this terrible heat (my city is now under water restriction), or maybe I'm just going senile, but my brain fog has made it impossible to write.

I tried for two days to get the darn brain unstuck, and while I did write, what came out was pretty much crap. Still, I can fix crap.

To address this problem, I have taken a step back from the novel and done a few other things. The other night, I made a chocolate cake from scratch - something I normally never do as a box cake is a lot easier - but my daughter wanted cake, and I was in the mood to bake, so bake I did. I also whipped up a batch of baked burritos that my husband loves. I normally do not like to cook. But as it is a form of creativity, it was fun to do.

Last night, I finished reading an absolutely adorable, charming novel called The Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise by Julia Stuart. It centers around a modern-day Beefeater who lives and works at the Tower of London. It's rare for me to actually laugh out loud when I'm reading, but this book made me do that more than once. It's very British, and as I am a certified Anglophile (I do have a certificate somewhere...), I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I feel better today, and I hope to get back to the novel tonight.

The old adage is true - sometimes, you just gotta refill that creative well.

How do you refill your creative well when it runs dry?

Friday, August 03, 2012

The Writer's Struggle

What I see in my brain is not what ends up on the page. In my head, it's a beautiful movie, with lots of gorgeous scenery and sounds and smells. Transcribing that onto the page is an exercise in madness. Why? Because it will never be exactly as we see it in our head. That is impossible.

But isn't it neat to think that what we end up writing will be seen differently by each and every person that reads it? Each person will relate to your words differently because they will bring their experiences, their memories, and their reactions with them as they read.

Of course, in the end, it all boils down to one thing: you must write. Because if you don't write, then your words will not be read and experienced in a multitude of varying ways by a variety of people.

Therefore, go and write. Get it down. Fix it later.

And above all...

Enjoy the process.

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