Tuesday, March 22, 2011

In Like a Lion

I hate March.

Okay, "hate" is a little strong. Truth is, I don't have anything against the month other than the weather. It can't quite seem to make up it's mind, at least in my neck of the woods, whether it wants to be a spring month or a winter month. (And why can't I ever remember if seasons get capitalized? One of these days I will break down and invest in the Chicago manual of style, but for right now my little tiny style manual is woefully silent on this.) Even if the day starts off with "It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood," it will often end with "It was a dark and stormy night."

It's the old "In like a lion, out like a lamb" proverb.

Writing a story or novel can be like that, too, especially if you're not sure where it's going when you begin. (If you are one of those writers who outlines everything before they start and then actually stick to that outline all the way through the process, I have but one thing to say to you: go away. I'm not talking to you.) You get a certain idea in your head, and you charge in, ready to get it down on paper. So you roar, figuratively speaking I hope, and then tear into it. Only to get maybe halfway through and realize things aren't going entirely in the direction you expected them to. You slow down, you sputter a bit, you back up, you rewrite. And maybe you recapture that initial thrust, and maybe you don't, but eventually you skip across the field and leap the fence of the finish line.

(Yes, I am aware I have just badly tortured that metaphor. I'm not done yet.)

Conversely, a story may start slow, grazing about in the field of ideas, and then at the end it turns into the snarling, ravenous beast that seizes the ending of the story in it's jaws and devours it until it's finished.

There are times in writing when it never changes. Times when either the entire story goes slow and gentle. Here I'm talking strictly about the process, mind you. The page can be strewn with blood and guts but behind the scenes there was more bleating at the keyboard than roaring. Or, the ones I really like, when it's all charging ahead from start to finish, committed to the chase once the idea has been properly stalked.

For the most part, though, it seems to be one or the other. Not just with myself, but among the other writers I have talked to. Even the more workmanlike amongst us, the ones who sit down and churn out five pages a day, have their stories that they find themselves varying on in terms of their enthusiasm, their ideas, their ability to sit down and really churn. Some days those five pages come easy, after all, and some days they barely come at all.

Do I have a preference in my writing, which I'd prefer to start with? While I'd like my month to go out nice and gentle and preferably warm, I tend to find the stories that write best are the ones that end the most aggressively. The ones that are slower towards the end - again, in terms of the process, not plot or pacing - are a little bit more like work, a little bit less like fun.

I suppose the only thing that really matters is that, like on the calendar, eventually it comes to an end.

And in case anyone is worried, I shall not compare rewrites to April showers.

Maybe taxes, though.


Anonymous said...

Hey, it's me, Katze =) I'm following you *spooky* (lol)

Say, March ain't really that bad. Sometimes what we despise in the outside is actually something grungy inside of us that we should work on. See? That Psychology Certificate got some use, after all.
Kidding, though. March is almost at an end, and Spring is at the door. At your fringe in the woods, take a look around, I'm sure you'll see signs of it! =)

Paula said...

Nobody tortures a metaphor as beautifully as you do. *grin*