Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Simile and Metaphor

A new story began twirling in my head my mind is in the land of Other. I jotted a few paragraphs down last night, but nothing substantial. I'm a bit frustrated, trying to figure out where these characters want to go, what they want to say. I'm sure we've all heard that the creative process is like giving birth; it is.
Typically, the process - at least for me - starts months before the story actually begins to take shape on paper. A certain quality of character might slide through my thoughts; a name, a career, a dream. I'll hear a song that sticks with me, a certain place may occupy a few minutes of my thinking time. A vague idea of plot may begin to simmer...but it takes a while for all of it to germinate, to come together in an "Oh! That's the story!" kind of revelation. It reminds me of those months before the first ultra know something's in there, but it doesn't hit you that the something is an actual baby until they rub you with cold gel and show you the inside of your uterus.
So now is the growing stage - the second trimester, if you'll stick with me on the comparison. The story fleshes out; you learn more about the characters, about their voices. You find out if it's a boy or a girl, so to speak. You have to keep motivation up; take those vitamins and keep the pen moving.
Once you hit that third trimester, you're ready to see that baby; you're ready to have the last line written. It still takes patience - patience to wait and make sure that you've made it all the best it can be. (You've got to get the nursery decorated and the pediatrician listed on the hospital forms.) And in those last moments - the whole labor process - you have to push yourself to get it all out; to make sure that every word is there that needs to be there. Finishing is sometimes the hardest part.
In real life, there is a baby at this point that takes supervision and gentle care. Yep. The edits are upon us. Some distance between writing the last line and going back over the draft is essential; time brings objectivity and clarity on what you really need and what you don't. I do not, however, recommend this time apart if you actually are dealing with an infant. :)
Anyway, all this is to remind myself and anyone out there trying to birth something new - it's difficult, it's tiring, and it's frustrating - but at the end, there's a brand new shiny creation. So keep at it. It's worth it.

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