Wednesday, September 23, 2009
I try not to get too personal about my writing on this blog. It’s challenging enough to write fiction without the blogosphere witnessing. It’s like exercising in public—a little too much information. But part of being a writer (generally) is that we want others to know about it; to share in news of its loving conception and difficult birth. I always hope for a reaction like, “What a beautiful baby!” Even backhanded compliments are welcome. I’ll settle for, “What a unique child,” or even, “He doesn’t look anything like you.”
Currently my writing output is stuck between conception (writing a novel outline), birth (jump starting another draft), short story revision, and dawdling indecision (writing this blog post). I’ve approached my novel from multiple angles, switched up characters’ ages, personalities, and back stories, but I’m still not satisfied that I’ve hit upon the correct mix of variables that will see me through completion of a successful final draft.
Writing outlines can be part of the writing process. Some writers can’t start writing until they have a complete outline. Some writers blanch at the mention of writing from an outline. Then there are writers like New York Times bestselling author Ms. X, who had been researching the shit out of her second novel for a few years before she signed a book deal, and faced a hard deadline. Before she wrote a word, she wrote an outline. To finish her book on time, she needed to know not just her characters and plot, but also the structure before she started writing. She didn’t have the time to rework structure halfway through a third draft. She couldn't have completed her new novel on deadline otherwise. And from what I hear, she’s met the deadline. Thank you, Outline!
My prime directive is writing. Time for writing is my luxury. Or rather, not having a deadline. It makes up for not having a New York Times bestseller. Well, almost. Conception can be a fertile writing experience, but am I using my time appropriately? No amount of preparation replaces a finished short story or a novel draft.
Is an outline the first step or just a bluff?