Posted by: oneyearbook | April 9, 2009

When the work gets done

The comment on the question about outlining – from another Victoria writer, it seems – that mentioned the obsessive in-head plotting of work, as opposed to on-paper outlining, made me think of how large a role the ‘life of the mind’ plays in the act of writing a book.

Certainly, the words eventually do get put down on paper (well, in the computer, really), but at the point when that’s happening I don’t really think that the “work” of the piece is actually happening – that’s all come before, when I’m tossing and turning and trying to get to sleep and suddenly think, Oh, this character has to do this; or when I’m in the car, as a passenger, staring blankly out the window as the trees whip by on one side and the cars on the other, and realize that the only way to make one section work is to completely reverse the characterization I’d expected for two of the minor characters. Then my brain worries away these thoughts, turning them from one little stitch into a fully-knit scarf of ideas, and by the time I’m at the computer again all those ideas are coming out, automaton-like, onto the page.

If I was being paid an hourly wage for this job I could claim I was at work almost 100 per cent of my waking hours. Too bad that’s not how this all works.

Total word count thus far: 58,288 (The outlining – and the nighttime musing – worked well and I got out 6,000 words today.)

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