Knot Writing

For all my writing about writing the past couple of weeks, forests and elephants included, I’m afraid I’ve given the impression that I’ve been prolific in putting words on paper.  Truth be told, the only words that have made it out of my brain, are the ones that have been lucky enough to find their way here.  I do believe that I’m up to my elbows in revising, though at times don’t feel like I’m making any headway.   Today I came up with a great analogy for how I feel, and if you’ll bear with me for a moment, I’m sure I’m not the only one.

The back door of our house is a set of French doors.  We have blinds hung over the windows of both, but 90% of the time, the blinds are pulled all the way up to allow beaucoup* natural light in.  If you can imagine, the strings for the blinds are long and hang coiled on the ground and seem to stay in a constantly tangled mess.  With the frequent opening and closing of the door and subsequent swinging of the strings, often I find myself with knots to untangle.  Truth be told, I don’t hate the knots.  I love working through them, loosening the string and making progress, even if it does happen slowly. Right now, my brain is one big tangled knot of words.  I’m committed to my storyline, main character and rhythm.  I (think I) know how it starts and how it ends, and I feel most comfortable with the middle passages.  I know I have the words… I just need to get them untangled.

I wish that they would unhook from each other and fall into place, but of course, writing isn’t that easy.  I realized that I needed to get outside of my head, so last week I decided to ask my main character what he thought.  This will, no doubt, sound bizarre to many of you, but as I was driving to a meeting, I turned off the radio and literally talked, out loud, to him.  I asked questions and started to better understand who he is. For starters, his favorite color is red, he loves rocket ships and wants to be a fireman when he grows up.  He lives in a city, much larger than what I’m familiar with and he wears glasses. None of this is in my story, and most of the answers surprised me.  Aside from learning more about who he is, I did find some clarity and I think I have a better understand of how he’ll act.

I also decided to rewrite the story, in prose… again.  It’s cleaner and more concise than the last time I attempted this, and maybe this will help me sort through words.  But before I do that, I’m reading through all the previous drafts.  Some were much too wordy, a couple too fluffy, one felt forced and clumsy, and all left much to be desired… but the came from the same well of inspiration that I continue to try and fetch words from.  Maybe I cut something I shouldn’t have.  Maybe a line was wrong, but it holds the right word(s). Maybe if I pull here, it’ll loosen something.

So, as you can see, I have plenty homework assignments. There’s my upcoming webinar, which I mentioned, on Sunday.  I need to read my earlier drafts, again, and write the story in prose (meaning without rhyme). I’ve also been instructed to study other picture books that center around the same theme as my WIP. Which makes me realize, they don’t call it a ‘work in progress’ for nothing…

Thanks for reading, come back anytime!

-JP

*For those of you reading who don’t have a French background, Merriam-Webster defines beaucoup (\ˈbō-(ˌ)kü\) as ‘in great quantity or amount’.  How can anyone not love being Cajun, we have some of the greatest words!

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4 thoughts on “Knot Writing

  1. I thought I was the only writer who asked my main character to help me with a scene. When I listen to her voice, she leads me in the right direction. I can see your wanna-be-fireman character is taking you in the right direction, too.

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  2. I love that you talk to you character, Jennifer. I have done a lot of “interviews” with my main character, Nikki Landry. She is so funny, and actually drives my stories…when I let her. Keep on writing! Rita

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    • Thanks Rita! I appreciate the encouragement… I look forward to reading and learning more from you. I plan to get to know Nikki too! (What a perfect Cajun name… I can hear it with an accent AND the rest of the world can actually pronounce it!)

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