Friday, 25 March 2011

Stories don't write themselves? Ever?

Now I'm disappointed! There was me thinking that Rosa, my protagonist,  had taken over my soul and was writing my novel for me...

I even told my good friend Bill, another writer, all about it. He was happy for me. He understood.

But then I read this, by another writer, Joan Swan: 

"I don't think terms like "the story wrote itself" or "my characters write my novels" are either accurate or helpful.

It may be pretty--in theory--all whimsical and mysterious. But, **reality check**, stories don't write themselves. Characters (I know this will come as a shock to some) are figments of a writer's imagination, so, sorry, they don't have the power to write novels.

It gives rise to the idea that creativity is a separate entity. That you, as the writer, have no control over said entity and are at its fickle whim. For any writer struggling with their work, these terms can be discouraging at best, crippling at worst.

Stories and characters may take on energy, but it's your (the writer's) energy, not the story's, not the character's.

So next time you hear someone breezing about how their story is writing itself or how their characters have taken over and they (the writer) are but mere transcription tools, remember:

1) The writer is having a good day, is in "the zone", or is writing pure crap and they just don't know it yet.

2) The writer is experiencing a rush of subconscious communication that he or she has been cultivating--whether known or unknown to the writer--for months, if not years.

3) Your creativity is part of YOU. It is cultivated by you, fed by you and ultimately controlled by you. So if you're not feeling it on a particular day, or during a particular week or month, that doesn't mean it's gone.

You, too, will have these in-the-zone days. So when they come and words seem to be flying out of your mind and through your fingers out of nowhere, don't give inanimate objects credit! You think hard. You plot hard. You write hard. Claim your victory!"

I prefer my version, Joan Swan. And so does Rosa.