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Welcome to the longest-running* yet least-read** blog on the internet! Here you'll find me writing about all the things that I write about, which strikes me, just now, as somewhat recursive. In any case, enjoy :)

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Friday, April 22, 2011

Zen-like detachment, part one

I used to fuss over every word I wrote, but especially the first paragraph. I'd agonize over word choice and word order. I would spend as much time polishing as writing, which meant, I'm afraid, that I spent a lot of time polishing turds. I wouldn't say it was an obsession, but it was a preoccupation.

Why? Because I couldn't get this image out of my head of an editor, pipe in hand, opening the manila envelope containing my story, reading the first paragraph, shaking his head sadly and saying 'So close. If only he'd said it a slightly different way."

Things have changed. I've changed.

It's not that I have no interest in writing a great opening paragraph. I have written and perversely enjoy writing beginnings far more than I enjoy writing 'the end.' What has changed is that I no longer write to be published, on a psychological level, but to explore stories and themes and to follow an odd idea to its conclusion.

Once you stop caring about rejection, once you detach yourself from what happens to the story after you finish it, you are free to do, literally, anything in and with the story. And then you're free to re-do it until you have something that says exactly what you want it to say.

And that, my friends, engenders a far more powerful feeling than any acceptance letter I have ever received.

6 comments:

Dream Pedlar said...

Thanks for sharing this enlightenment. I'm beginning to breathe freely again ... :)

expat@large said...

I need to internalise this...

Isabella said...

When writing the first draft, it should always ba about fun. If you're bored, it's gonna be a turd.... fer sure.

Michael McClung said...

The more fun you have, the better its likely to be, but there are no guarantees and sometimes you just have to gut out a few hundred or thousand words, to find the thread or the spark or simply because you want to play hookie...

Meaghan said...

Michael, first of all, thank you for being my first blog follower - I don't care if I sound corny, it made my day! I have been doing a lot of thinking lately about what you posted here, and how important it is to let go of other people's expectations of you and your work and just write for the sake of telling your story and getting it down on paper before worry whether it will be rejected or not. Thanks, in many ways, for reminding me I'm not alone..

Deborah Walker said...

That's the ticket. I don't agonise. I can't ay it'salways fun though, sometimes it's like pulling teeth. But I get it done.