Stewing and Simmering

Tellers of stories with ink on paper, not that they matter anymore, have been either swoopers or bashers. Swoopers write a story quickly, higgledly-piggledy, crinkum-crankum, any which way. Then they go over it again painstakingly, fixing everything that is just plain awkful or doesn’t work. Bashers go one sentence at a time, getting it exactly right before they go on to the next one. When they’re done they’re done. I am a basher. Most men are bashers, and most women are swoopers….

Writers who are swoopers, it seems to me, find it wonderful that people are funny or tragic or whatever, worth reporting, without wondering why or how people are alive in the first place.

Bashers, while ostensibly making sentence after sentence as efficient as possible, may actually be breaking down seeming doors and fences, cutting their ways through seeming barbed-wire entanglements, under fire and in an atmosphere of mustard gas, in search of answers to these eternal questions: “What in heck should we be doing? What in heck is really going on?”

— Kurt Vonnegut. Timequake

I have a problem committing to a story. I don’t necessarily consider this a bad quality, because a lot of my ideas are terrible. I get an idea, get excited about it, get a few pages in and realize that all I had was an idea. I’ve got no plot, and after a month or so of chewing on it, I’ve still got no plot. There’s no sense in pushing it any further.

Put there are some, a rare few, of my ideas that do start to work out. Right now, I have 3 new ideas for which I’m lacking a plot, and I’m hopeful on those. But I’ve got two others that are really beginning to feel solid. One of those I’ve been sitting on for about 5 years. The other, about 12.

It’s weird, this growing sense of rightness and security. In general, I feel very insecure because I haven’t been producing my work. I haven’t been writing. But I have been doing a lot of thinking, and a bit of note taking, and a lot of crossing out and throwing away. Some of the water is boiling over the edge, and I’m worried because I’m losing the water… but the truth is that you’ve got to boil some to make the stew. It needs to thicken up a bit. That is, so I am told, how these things work.

So, I’m getting closer. It’s not happening on the time line I want it to, but I’m coping with that. I’m also coping with the sometimes depression of not meeting goals I’d set and of not being the person/writer I want to be. Let it simmer, let it stew… hopefully something good will come of it.

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