Candy Rant

"I killed a rat with a stick once."

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

It Was Quick and Merciful

Went to see the colleague who had read my writing and he was incredibly helpful. I knew going in that he was wielding a knife that I had placed in his hand, but he didn't draw blood.

His comments were specific about some things and general about others and overall very encouraging. The maddening part is that he gave me so much to think about. Not only can I see the points he made, and know how to use them in revision, but I also have ideas for the fresh writing yet to come. Even more maddening is not having enough time to get it all done before school starts. Same old story of freak-out in the last month of summer.

One thing he said that I especially loved: When we were on the subject of cutting out the sentences that are unnecessary, he said, "I always thank a sentence as I'm cutting it. I say 'You were a wonderful canoe, but I've made it to the island now.'" It's much less painful to think that my "bad" writing got me to where I'm going and then I can just let go of it, rather than thinking I've somehow wasted my time writing it in the first place. I knew this, but his canoe metaphor drove it home, so to speak.

On the topic of moving from scene to scene in a memoir, we discussed the logic that needs to be in place. I've been playing around with time, weaving memories about my dad in his healthy days into the more recent segments of him in dementia. The logic has to make sense to the reader, moving naturally from one time to another based on the emotional connection. And, my colleague pointed out, this can be very satisfying to the reader when the puzzle of the book makes sense to them as it falls into place, when "your logic clicks in their head."

It would actually be fun to mess with all this if I weren't trying so hard to get it done. I need to retrain myself to enjoy the process, and not to have the default emotion during the writing to be panic. (Even though panic is kind of my default emotion for life. Damn. There may be a lesson to learn here.)

Oddly enough, the dental problem that I had gotten worked on this past Tuesday (and thought was all better now), started randomly bleeding as I sat in my colleague's office. So there I was, nervous about his feedback and suddenly I literally tasted blood. Seems a little primitive in retrospect. Cave woman about to protect her "baby" from the threatening other-tribe member? 

Back to the writing cave again.


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