Saturday, August 20, 2011

Better than Yourself

Hi folks, I hope you are writing. I'm working on a novel right now, and I thought that I had really gotten the thing together. I have all these beautiful sentences, and I'm right, the writing is gorgeous, but it's not producing the right stuff in my readers. I have to cut the sentences because I'm info-dumping and also just pulling away from the central plot. I had to have a good cry to do these cuts. I've been working on this book for a long time. I'm the slowest writer ever. I really am.

My advice is: it's okay to cry, but don't give up. I think being kind to yourself is a good plan. It really helped me to go back to a draft in 2003. (I said I was working on this for a long time). I see my fear there -- fear to reveal my character, to let anyone see into the window of her soul to know her anger, her desperation, her hunger. I've been slowly carving out the shape of this thing. I stand by the cuts and additions I made then. I must be brave and stand by the ones I'm making today. I want so deeply to express to others what I know.

I struggle with verbal communication. I talk too much, don't listen enough, blurt out the wrong thing at the wrong time too often, have to say things 20 times to get to what I mean. I'd be lost if it weren't for the written word. I want to spin a story about what it means to be hungry to know things and yet have little access to knowledge and how that hunger shapes you. I'm summoning up all my courage. Calling out the better angels of sacrifice and endurance and doing the bravest hardest thing I know: saying what I mean.

If you are truly going to create something worthy, it's going to hurt. It's going to be wonderful too. Open up and let it happen. Peace.

I'm posting a silly doodle of a story I love: Noah's Ark. Noah was supposed to have taken about 120 years to build the ark after he got wind of the vision of it from the creator of all good things. It takes time to do something truly amazing that will lift other above the floods in this world.

Always dream and shoot higher than you know you can do. Don't bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.
William Faulkner


Vijaya said...

The doodle is so pretty and cute. You know, I could've written this post (minus the writing part -- I'm not. Too much going on with house hunting, etc.) but it would've taken me 50 times to write this ...

I think I got you beat on the world's slowest writer award and struggling verbally.

By the way, I notice my stutter has gone wa-a-a-y up. I could cry.

MollyMom103 said...

Thanks for liking my cute doodle. Kittens, bunnies, pink hearts, I can't help it that I love stuff like that.

Ah, Vijaya, the stuttering is probably all the stress. Last year when I moved the only writing I did was with the filmmaker guy. That was interesting, fun, but I think just survival. Without him I would not have written a word. On all my personal projects, I just stopped moving forward. It just wasn't a year full of stories, and yet it was a good year in its way.

You will get back to your words. I just have faith about that.

I read that stuttering is really just a symptom of someone who is not processing language like everyone else. Don't cry.

I am reading a book called Incognito: The Secret Life of the Brain that may encourage you about the loopiness of perception. Processing problems are to be expected.

I will pray for you too.

Hugs, Molly.

Katherine Grace Bond said...

You are so gifted—both as a novelist and as an essayist. Your blog is one of the best ones out there--so much meat for people who are serious about their work. I think even the "dabblers" can get something from this, but for those of us in the trenches you are a huge encouragement.

MollyMom103 said...

Hi, Katherine! I hope you are writing up a storm. My writing talent is so boosted by the company I keep. I've never thought of myself as an essayist but I have a particular fondness for Ralph Waldo Emerson.

A man only learns in two ways, one by reading, and the other by association with smarter people.
Will Rogers

Kjersten said...

I LOVE that Faulkner quote. Thanks again for a great blog post, Molly.

MollyMom103 said...

Yes, Faulkner, I wish I could have had a day with him to discuss everything.