Posted by Lynne
When my now eighteen-year-old daughter was a little girl, getting her face wet while playing in water was traumatic. Every summer, whether at the beach down the street or at the lake where we vacation, I'd play games with her aimed at getting her comfortable near water.
"No matter how big I get, I am never going to swim under water," she said.
I didn't tell her then what I knew, which was that some day she'd be completely comfortable with the idea. She would learn that there is little to fear when you trust that you can do it. And last summer she laughed when I reminded her of what she'd believed with every fiber of her being when she was five.
I reminded her after she did a hand stand off the dock--in her clothes.
"I'll never change my title." "I'll never kill off a character." "I'll never read my reviews."
It's fine to have convictions. In fact where would any writer be without them? Yet playing with the word never closes a mind. And a closed mind simply can't be open to new possibilities. Friend of our blog, Judy Merrill Larson wrote a wonderful blog entry about revision this week. She reminds us that every time we dip into our work truly open minded, we have an opportunity to re-vision our work in new and creative ways.
I've been thinking about this a lot during the last few weeks. My novel has been edited and submitted to my editor and I am deep into crafting my work-in-progress. I've come a long way over the last few years in terms of keeping an open mind about my work. I think we become more narrow minded when we're afraid. Fear of feedback. Fear of rejection. Fear of acceptance. These are the things that lock us on to our convictions. Arbitrary yet comfortable thinking that may or may not be in our best interest, or in the best interest of our work.
Now that I am entrenched in writing my second novel, I realize that the beauty of the first draft is its limitless possibilities. I'm not tied to any one conviction, because each day I put my characters in circumstances that allow their transformations to begin. I'm not married to any one situation or scenario, I just want to create scenes that show the reader what I know about a mother struggling to connect with her children because of the distant relationship she had with her own mother. I want readers to feel the breadth of another woman's love for one man, and why this love had the power to lock her in the past.
To show this, to truly convey it, I'll need to listen to my characters tell me their stories. I'll need to let them show me the way. Their journey, and mine, will have its twists and turns, there will be days when together we'll be lost and days when the way is made clear. Now that I've completed one novel, one that has changed along its way, I'll trust the process.
I've decided to leave the word never out of my vocabulary, and like my daughter take the plunge. I'm comfortable submerging myself in writing this story, letting it take me to places I've yet to imagine. It is with an open mind that I'll get to the end of the story.
Thursday, December 06, 2007
Posted by Lynne