Well, well, well. Much to share.
Finished reading A Simple Plan. I think I mentioned that in an earlier entry. I bring this up again because I am thrilled with what I learned from Scott Smith’s style. Concise. Powerful. Each word matters.
More than that, though, I realized something about Story. You gotta want it, man. You really got to get into the type and work from the inside out. It’s the only way to make your writing Pop. What I mean, I guess, is this: There can be nothing driving but the story. You aren’t writing for an audience (at least not directly), you aren’t writing to win a contest, you aren’t even writing to publish.
You’re writing to bring some thing to life vibrantly, vividly, using 26 letters in black ink on white paper. Talk about your challenge of a lifetime. And you get only one chance. How else can you do it if you’re not inside the story, inside the pen, in the ink, on the page, shouting out to your reader, “You are simply not going to believe this. But I swear. I swear to God. This is the absolute truth, even if none of it ever happened.”
(my humble thanks to the great Chief Bromden for that last thought…)
I know, I know. It’s all contradicting everything I’ve always taught and believed, but it’s true. If you write to bring that story to life and use all the elements at your fingertips–I mean really use them, then all those other things: audience, awards, and publications–they’ll come to you anyway. And if they don’t now, they will when you’re dead, when they realize just how genuine and passionate and ahead of it all you really were.
So that’s why I call this Revisions and Re-Visions. Last night, near midnight, I was on the elliptical trainer at the gym, and the rewrites to my book Cold Rock came to me somewhere around mile 2. Great stuff, I believe (but nobody but my buddy SK will hear of it; I think I’ve reached the point where I need to talk less and write more).
The rewrites focus on the majors: character development, stronger plot, reality-driven. I’ve already started. I’m shooting to wrap up the rewrite by the end of December. Then we’ll see where it stands. I have a good feeling, though, that by adopting this inside-out process, I’m going to make it Pop.
The other Revision–or re-vision, is simply about my own renegotiations with what my vision is in living fully and balancing my writing and my teaching and my photography. It’s who I am. Like I was mentioning to one of my friends yesterday at school, you have to let your art out. You have to be in love with what you do all the time.
You got to live life from the inside out. Just like I got to write about it. . . .
It really is that simple. Now if we could only convince ourselves of it.