Sunset bison

Sunset bison

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Isn't that the point?

It’s funny how I started my novel and suddenly feel too shy to share it with anyone other than Lori, and even then I feel stupid and amateurish. Even passages I think strong fall flat when read aloud. Our confidence is so often dependent upon familiarity, whether of people, places or pursuits. I’ve never considered myself a fiction writer but like most nonfiction authors sensed a novel hidden deep within hungering to get out into the light of day. Now that November is here (National Novel Writing Month, "Thirty days and nights of literary abandon!") I’ve surrendered to the inevitable and started seeing where my thoughts would take me. Yesterday I labored over the first 2,300 words to flesh out a passage that had haunted me for years. The feeling is indescribable. 

I might never finish the novel. It might turn out as bad as anything I’ve ever written, and I’ve written some execrable crap in my time. But that’s not the point. The point is that I’m letting my defenses down. I’m letting a voice come out that’s been too long quieted. I’m doing what I want to. Isn’t that the whole point of life?


Deb Southerland said...


Reece said...

The shyness you speak of has also hindered me getting my art out into the world. I'll look at my photos and think I've got some good stuff, but when it's time to show them to others, I get shy and start questioning my work. I imagine it's a common problem among creative types.
As far as the book goes, all I can say is "about time!". Good luck, bro.

Tom Parker said...

I was up till three a.m writing and today the page stares at me blankly. I'm almost at a loss for words but have to start. This isn't going to be easy but I appreciate the support and encouragement. It's entirely possible that what I write will be best suited to line kitty-litter boxes

Bud Simpson said...

Tom, I've always felt that the concept, "familiarity breeds contempt" has no stronger ally than the creative mind. The words, the pictures are our own, and because we feel them so deeply, we start to think that they reflect our failings instead of our strengths.

You have a powerful voice. Turn it loose.

cheryl said...

Oh god, you share your rough drafts? That's insane. A first draft is crap, always crap, at least in my house, not fit for human consumption.

But, keep drafting - write, Tom, write. Write, write, write, write, write! (See that's how I get 1,700 words a day, repetition.)

Tom Parker said...

Cheryl, I tend to write slow with many revisions throughout the process. By the time I'm through with a first draft it's fairly clean, though tweaking is always done before submission. before submission. before submission. before submission. before submission. (Am I at 1,700 words yet?)

shoreacres said...

Oh, my gosh. You, too? I'm starting to get a real complex. I'm surrounded by people involved in this NaNo business, all saying things like, "Of course, if you're really going to write, you need to go big! Get that novel out! You know it's in there!!!"

I don't have a novel, not anywhere. I've looked and looked and I can't find it. Phooey.

But good for you. I'm filled with admiration for the people who are up for it, who have stories to tell and the skill to do it (which you do - don't tell yourself otherwise).

It is good to know there's someone else out there who revises "in process". I've always felt a little weird about that, too.

Just remember - Flannery O'Connor once said reading one of her drafts was like "eating a horseblanket". If it's good enough for her, it ought to be good enough for us!

cheryl said...

Oh. I didn't think it was possible to do NaNo that way. For me, it has to be all about drafting, moving along. Revisions come later, if it's worth revising.

Tom Parker said...

Cheryl, if I just wrote without looking back like the good folks at NaNo I'd be halfway through. As it is, I backtrack and study and scrutinize and agonize over word choices and take notes of characters and situations and, in general, get nowhere. I only write 1,050 words today but they're good ones. I kind of like this.

I still think we should share our best lines/lines of the day.

Tom Parker said...

Linda -- You, too? Wow. Great minds think alike. And don't fret the lack of a novel. Not everyone is cut out to write the Great American Novel. I know I'm not!

cheryl said...

Good for you! You'll probably end up with a quality novel and I'll end up with 50K words.

Our best lines of the day? I haven't gotten to those yet.

Tom Parker said...

I know you, Cheryl. You're better than that. I think you're being shy, an emotional response to fiction writing I most assuredly understand, and empathize with.

cheryl said...

Um, no. I can't do this, write fiction. I totally suck at it.

Tom Parker said...

Now, now, let others be the judge. (Whet knives...)

cheryl said...

I'm depressed. I think I'll quit now and save myself the misery of the next 27 days.

Tom Parker said...

Okay, no knives, just heartfelt criticism.

It's funny, I watched a You Tube video last week of some young gal trying out for one of those talent TV shows, and she really sucked, ghastly so, but when the judges asked her to please cease and desist her caterwauling she grew testy. All of her friends told her how good she was, she said. The judges were idiots, etc.

Having a friend who not only understands language and writing might be the best critic for honest appraisals. I'd be terrible at that because I prefer friends over honesty at times.

However, a friend of mine who acts as a brilliant editor and friend asked if I wanted either him or his alter ego to critique my fledgling novel. I'd prefer his alter ego (named Victor), who never minces words nor judgments.

Sharing fiction snippets, though, is akin to confessing sexual fantasies or that you secretly think Sarah Palin is presidential material. Terrifying stuff.

This is a long torturous route to say you're a better writer than that, and you're certainly not a quitter.