Thursday, September 07, 2006

Skimming the surface

So this morning on MSN, there's an article on depression. Here's the line that caught my eye:

"The more information there is, the more we end up essentially skimming the surface. This leads to a style of thinking in which we see only the big picture and miss the depth of detail."

This gets me because skimming the surface is how I've always written. That's the problem I have with most of the fiction I've written, certainly; and it's the flaw that most of my editors nail me on whenever I write professionally - although it's not as bad as when I first started out as a cub reporter. (And you should all feel great pity for poor Leslie who had to knock me into shape. It was a dirty job, but someone had to do it.)

Interestingly, when those lines caught my eye, I immediately opened Blogger to post about it - without even finishing the paragraph, which says this:

"As a result, when we are faced with difficult problems, we do not recognize the many small steps that solutions typically require; things feel overwhelming and insurmountable, leading us to give up before we even start."

And the other shoe drops. I think part of my problem with tackling any fiction project is arc: what are the little movements, the little steps, that make it up? I think they're there, I just have a hard time recognizing them.

So when it comes time to rewrite, I have a hard time separating the wheat from the chaff. Revising becomes overwhelming, so I freak out and replot, and end up with War and Peace. Nice process.

All this is sort of beside the point for today's writing; I wrote what I think will be the Act 1 turning point for Pere. (I took down the blog; it was getting too much traffic and I freaked out about someone stealing my idea. Paranoia: that's how I roll.)

But it's a good scene, dark and affecting, and actually full of sensory detail. I'm not sure the foundation has been laid for Pere's heartbreak, but at least now I know that I need to lay it, and how.

And for today, writing this good scene has banished the sort of malaise I've felt creeping up on me lately. Some runners get cranky and out of sorts when they don't run. I get cranky and out of sorts - and increasingly paranoid - when I don't write.

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