Writing when you “ain’t quite right.” Part 2
Happy new year #13 of this century. The last #13 of the century brought us gems like the 16th amendment (Income Tax), the 17th Amendment (direct election of senators), the Mexican Revolution, the first car assembly line (Ford), and Woodrow Wilson. If this year is anything like that one, just kill me now and get it over with. My BAID (My, but alas I digress).
In my previous blog, I described the importance of accepting there’s a problem. Which brings me to the point of Part 2: STRATEGIES TO GET AROUND THE PROBLEM.
Give me a bunch of pictures and ask me to put them in a logical order and I’m completely lost, something of a problem if you want to write a novel. Unless the changes coming in the year 2013 delete the requirements that a novel have a plot and an internal logic–all requiring sequencing of events—I still have to incorporate these elements.
So then, how am I going to write a book when I can’t sequence worth a damn?
I’ll go back to college again—not in this reality, hell no–just in terms of describing strategies. Once I had a definition for “ain’t quite right,” the next problem was to find the right strategies to use. Here are but a few:
1. Learn to type at 70 words per minute, take copious notes, and share them freely with people you’ve identified who can successfully highlight the parts the test is going to be on. (Prime candidates for #2 on the list.)
2. Work with a group of other people and listen to their conversations about the topic.
3. Use books on tape. The great thing about this is the fact that the school has to let you sign up for classes before anyone else because the textbooks need to be taped. It means you always get the class you want. (This is how you’re able to accomplish #4 on the list.)
4. Take courses from professors whose MO is the take-home test or who don’t know how to put together multiple-choice questions in which the answers aren’t obvious.
When I tell you I graduated from college with a 3.3 average and earned a BS in Rehab psychology you might, with good reason, wonder about the institution of higher learning that would give me the degree.
Unfortunately, the strategies for getting through college are pretty much useless when it comes to writing a book that makes sense to other people besides me. But the fact that I found a way around a problem and accomplished a dream I believed was beyond my reach gives me hope that I can find a way around this problem, too.
When you’re writing, you’re leading the reader down an unknown path, leaving clues to what’s ahead as you walk her (or him) along it. You don’t want to stop along the way to discuss the Latin name for every flower in the garden, unless it’s important later, or to listen to the discussions between people you pass that have no bearing on the journey. But when you have trouble sequencing, the act of sifting through
–how much is too much,
–how much is too little, or
–if it’s just right
is harder than a blind Goldilocks trying to find her way out of an art museum whose main exhibit is a multitude of stairs that go nowhere.
Now that you have that grizzly picture in your head, I’ll move on to how I’m trying to solve this dilemma. Did you notice that all of my strategies for getting through college had a common theme?
–Let someone else do the reading.
Finding the right strategy in college involved finding people who were willing to help me get around the problem. When you have a series of novels in your head, who in their right mind is going to help you get things in the right sequence on paper?
There are only 2 more parts to this story, and I have to say my favorite is part 3—if for nothing more than the fact that the person I commandeered had it coming (at least that’s what she thinks, so I’m not going to ruin a good guilt trip by telling her otherwise).