Monday, 4 February 2013

Dreamstate and Neil Gaiman

Hey all,

There’s a youtube clip at the bottom of this post, hopefully, if I can figure out a way to embed it into the page. It’s a snippet from an interview with Neil Gaiman, an interview which I haven’t had the chance to listen to as a whole yet. I will later tonight, but I only just found the clip not ten minutes ago—youtube recommended it to me, due to the fact that I watched the video now sitting in my other things I like section. You should watch both; one is writer entertaining and the other is just absurd entertaining.

Let’s talk about my personal writing for a bit.

So, over the past few days I’ve mostly been working on the next installment of the Dreamstate series (yay). It’s still the most fun I’ve had setting up a book since I did Dreamstate: Dark Eyes. The other few odds and ends I’ve written/ have in the works between the two Dreamstates have been a bit more work to get going on. Also, I’ve been a bit under the weather, which for me means that I still write and go to the gym, but I also sleep for about 12 hours a day. This gets in the way of writing a little bit, but for the most part things are still moving along quite smoothly.

I mentioned in one or two of my earlier posts that I’m really a fan of taking pen to paper before I start the real writing on the computer. It helps me organize my thoughts, ideas, characters, plots, etc. If I don’t have a pretty solid guideline down for what I’m working on that day, things tend to go a bit haywire. The general way that I go about the writing is that in the morning and early afternoon I do the physical grunt work writing at the computer. In the evening I set aside a bit of time to get my thoughts in order for the next day. I find that these smaller, more focused outlines tend to really produce higher quality writing, and in much shorter time frames (everybody wins). Also, and I learned this the hard way—keep your ideas for each book in its own journal. If they get mixed together or separated, it’s a massive pain to keep track of everything. You’ll waste more time looking for that one detail than you do writing. My parents gave me, among other things, a very nice journal for Christmas this year—it has become the official house for all things considered Dreamstate II.

I guess I should talk a bit about the youtube clip. If you haven’t had a chance to watch it yet, do so now and then pop back up here if you want my opinion on what Mr. Gaiman is saying. It’s cool, there’s no rush, I’ll wait.

Done then? Okay, good. What’s being said in the interview is a lot like what Stephen King says in On Writing, and what Ursula K. Le Guin says in Steering the Craft. I’m about halfway through Steering the Craft, if the tone changes dramatically in the later half, then I apologize for the wild misinformation I’m spreading. Anyways, the part that most dramatically stuck out for me was when he Neil Gaiman was talking about how most of writing is just putting one word in front of the other. How you do have these magical moments of clarity, where everything feels like floating awesomeness, but for the most part, you’re building a stone wall of words. Now, I was stuck on this example for a little while, and I think it’s important to elaborate on the conclusion I reached as to what was actually being said.

I have had those days where it feels like you’re struggling through a tough scene, and every word is just a monstrous heavy thing you’re trying to drag into place. Those days suck, they really do, and plodding through is the only way to make it out the other side. The problem is, a lot of times, I have to go back and rework these scenes. Something about my writing, or the way I was approaching the problem was wrong, and the writing came out wrong in the end. The importance, as Neil Gaiman puts it, in the dry wall, is that while they have to drag each stone into place, the end result is beautiful and sturdy. A lot of times, if I’m not careful in these “drag words into place” situations, I get a really crappy wall, and that’s not what I want. There will be plenty of times where your writing turns into “one word after another,” but those are the moments when you have to be the most careful about what you’re doing; otherwise everything is just going to topple down on top of you and you’ll be buried under eight tons of rock and adverbs; and then you’ll die.


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