A Lesson in the Trees

The perfectionist in me tends to drag us into trouble quite a bit. She doesn’t know how to say “no” or ease into something new. When I try something for the first time, I want to try it on the expert level and doing it exactly right the first time. (Except video games, of course. I’ve come to realize the perfectionist alter-ego of mine only reaches so far.  I accept the fact that I just can’t play video games well!)

Anyway. I digress.

So, when the idea came to me to write my first short story, in true LJB fashion, I chose a mammoth of setting.   I have been playing around with an idea for a novel but it’s been a struggle to get all the pieces to fit together.  AJ suggested that I write the prequel to my novel as a short story.  That way, I can be strengthening my writing muscles while figuring out the details of my novel.  Instead of jumping a couple years into the past, which would have been an easier choice, I chose to go back to the time of the Salem witch trials. Back to 1692.

Choosing this short, choose this time,  I’ve learned a lot about myself.  And even more about my writing.

Towards the beginning of writing my short, I got really frustrated with my main character, Hannah.  She kept spending time looking at trees, and goodness, I didn’t want to write about trees!  I just didn’t!  So, Hannah would tell me more about trees, I would type it.  Delete it.  Try to type something else, and end up talking about those stupid trees again.

My solution:  I closed Word and went to #pubwrite.

And that night, I got advice that changed my world as a writer.  I had made a comment about struggling to write my character.  A pubber told me that I can’t write her, I have to let her tell the story.  My response was something along the lines, “I would, but she keeps talking about trees.”  To which, the pubber responded, “They must be important trees.”  (Sorry I can’t give credit where it’s due.  I don’t remember who the giver of such great advice was.)

I know the conversation really doesn’t seem like much on the surface, but it made something click within me.    This book may be my brain child.  But it’s not my story.

Michelanelo once said: “Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.”  Writing is the same way.  Somehow, I hadn’t realized that.  The page (computer or real) is my block of stone and I am merely the sculptor searching to discover the art within.

Since I’ve surrendered my control to Hannah, writing has been so much easier.  Of course, there are times that I have to keep her emotions in check, or edit out the boring stuff, but for the most part, she tells the story so much better when given the freedom to then when I tried to force it from her.  I went into this novella thinking that I was creating my characters and my story. I have learned, that is not the case.  I am just discovering them!

And so, the trees remain!

Published in: on 04.28.2011 at 5:12 pm  Leave a Comment  

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