August 29th, 2012

crossed heart

process changes and the clydesdale

Originally published at Cassie Alexander. You can comment here or there.

So the past few days have been write-off days, post-Grandma news, which is entirely OK. (PS: thank you to everyone for your nice comments, especially on twitter. Responding to them individually would just make me sad. Sorry to be gauche and group it all here.) I did go to work the past few nights though, which has been a good thing, it’s been busy there and a good distraction. I am way behind in emails, sorry, I will be catching up tomorrow and Thurs.

Working on Deadshifted again tonight. I reread a lot of what I’d done to get back into the flow. I know most of what happens from this part on out, which is sort of insane for seat-of-pantser me. Which is also why I’m not super worried about not making huge word count lengths, because it’s still the best thing I’ve done, and I’m still making it better…and my process is changing again.

Process changes are a lot like puberty. You never know when precisely they’ll hit, but chances are you’ll be wearing white shorts in gym class, metaphorically, when they do.

I’ve written about this before, but I think it’s still a topic worth exploring, so that the information is out there. The first time my process changed I had no idea what was happening — all I knew was that what I was doing before suddenly wasn’t working for me anymore. I’d written nine very linear books, everything in plot-order, like beads on a string. The strange new urges I had to hop around and explore things and bring in characters that I was unsure about, and write scenes far in the future and sometimes in my character’s past — it sent me into a funk, because all of a sudden I thought I was doing it wrong. I couldn’t understand why my old linear way wasn’t working, for years. I didn’t really trust myself again until I attended Clarion West, where writing a story a week for six weeks forced me to go with the flow and fully explore my new 360-style of writing things — and also produce the best work I’d ever done up until that time. That experience led me to ultimately write Nightshifted.

This process change seems to be more word-level oriented. (Which, now that I type it, amuses the hell out of me because oh-god I am not a wordsmith.) I can’t say I’m thrilled, because there’s comfort in knowing what you’re doing and why you’re doing it and how it’s all going to work out in the end. I don’t like freefall or exploring new ground too much, when what I’m already doing works. But this is what the writing-part of me seems to want to be doing now, and I know that I fighting it will only lead to sorrow.

If it sounds a little woo-woo and divining rod-ish, that’s because it is. (To my eternal, rationalist, shame.) But, well, sometimes I think of the writing-part of myself like a huge draft horse. It’s strong, it enjoys working, and we’re a team. A good rider knows that sometimes you have to trust the horse, like when a jump is coming up, or you’re crossing a challenging field. You have let out the rein and give it it’s head, so it can see what’s going on and do what needs to be done. I think that’s the least woo-woo way to explain how process changes are for me.

More soon, once I’ve caught up on emails ;P ;).