Monday, November 2, 2009

Can Do It

I read, recently, on another blog this quote from Picasso "I always do what I cannot do in order that I may learn how to do it." This seems the general motto of NaNoWriMo -- challenge yourself to do what you cannot do, i.e., write a novel in a month. I have heard of some acclaimed novelists who were said to be able to do this [short novels, of course] and produce novels they did not rewrite. I can't remember if those were people who wrote formulaic work like murder mysteries. Such geniuses in music have existed, Mozart was said to be able to write a symphony in a week or two without revision.

I don't expect to write a whole, and certainly not a polished, finished novel in the month of November but I wrote the introductory 1800+ words yesterday and truly enjoyed it I'm a seat-of-the-pants writer. I do not start with a plot or with notes about my characters. I have a very simple plot in my mind: protagonist has a goal, goal seems attainable, complications arise, goal seems unlikely to be attained, goal is attained but probably in a somewhat different manner than was originally envisioned. I'm being very general because I know things will change as I wrote.

Mainly yesterday, and today -- in a few minutes when I go to that file and start writing -- I am setting the physical scenery, and describing the characters. I haven't yet had Liz, the protagonist meet Geneva, who is a sort of antagonist. For me the delight in working from the seat-of-the-pants is discovery as I write. I set it in the part of rural southern Indiana where I grew up. It's a landscape that is easy to write about and enjoyable. The characters are the type of people I have known although none are based on my actual family or people I know. A certain dialect is spoken there that I enjoy using to give flavor to dialog.

Many people doing this exercise [they are all over the world. I haven't looked at the total number, but I'm sure it's on the website] are working more "traditionally" with outlines and laborious notes they made in the last few weeks. Good luck to them. It's a matter of temperament -- and possibly of age and experience. I know words flow easily and I do not have ego issues at stake. This is a story I attempted once possibly twenty years ago, maybe more, I now have a different perspective and more experience so I can write in greater detail. I'm having fun. That's an important factor. I strongly suspect Picasso had fun every time he took up pen or paintbrush, he couldn't have kept going for so long and produced so much art if it weren't a great pleasure.

1 comment:

John Ettorre said...

June, I'm glad that quote seems to have resonated for you, as it certainly did for me. Good luck on your novel. I'll look forward to reading updates on your progress.