Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Inspiration from Unusual Places

Leonard Campbell Taylor--Japanese Prints I’d reached one of those points in my current manuscript where I really wasn’t excited about moving forward with the plot. I wasn’t even really sure how I was going to move the plot forward. In fact…I’d stalled out.

I skipped ahead to a different part of the book…which works out great. You still get work done on the manuscript, but you’re not working on the part that’s tripping you up.

But I needed to get back to the rocky part of my story.

I’m one of those writers who works completely alone on the first draft portion of my book. I don’t tell people what, specifically, I’m writing about. I don’t belong to critique groups, I don’t ask for help. I just sweat it out through the first draft.

Subsequent drafts are different. I need help for those. But I usually can’t imagine a scenario where I’d talk to someone about my plot while drafting a story. It’s just not finished enough for me to really recap.

Plus, it’s sort of like the baby name conundrum—you know. When you’re expecting a baby and someone asks you what you’re going to name the baby. You’re not really sure what name you’re going to stick with, so you tell them the ones you’re deciding between. Then you hear how one name reminds them of this kid that threw up in 4th grade on his desk, or how one name is really, really cute (and that’s not the one you’re leaning toward), etc.

So a friend of mine called and invited my daughter over for a playdate. I sweated over my manuscript for a while, then jumped in the car to pick my daughter back up. I was thinking about the manuscript the whole way in the car.

When my friend asked me how my book writing went that afternoon, I suddenly spilled everything out. It wasn’t going well. I was stuck. I was even thinking about doing a rewrite after the first draft was done to change the whole motive for the murder.

“What’s the book about?” she asked.

So I told her. And the funny thing was that she had a lot of experience with the topic I was writing on. I’d had no idea. And she told me all kinds of stories filled with people stabbing other people in the back—real people with real emotions and real stories.

And as she was vividly telling me these stories, waving her hands around while she did it, I was thinking about my story and getting all kinds of tangent ideas.

Which is a very good argument for sharing what we’re working on. Although, as you can tell, I’m not doing it here…still thinking about the baby name example. :) And not everyone we share with is helpful—sometimes they can be more critical.

So my question for you is—do you share what you’re working on as you write a first draft? Why or why not?