Monday, January 26, 2015

January Theme: Resolution by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich

(adapted from a recent lecture)


 Structure is good. Formulas often work to organize our thoughts and move us forward. I know from spending time teaching in an early childhood classroom that even the most seemingly free-wheeling, anything-goes environments are often very carefully crafted and structured.

 Where it can get sticky, of course, is in that compulsion to get too focused on formula. I'd get anxious when people asked "Are you a pantser or a plotter?" Uh, I guess I just start writing, sometimes a list, sometimes some dialogue, sometimes... I just..do stuff, and that works for me. Sort of. Sometimes, most of the time, I get stuck somewhere in the bog of the middle, with characters wandering aimlessly, or worse, sitting still. So then I whip out one of my trusty books on PLOT, and plug in a formula -- a Mountain...3 Acts -- wait no, 5!...hmmm, who's my Shapeshifter? Is this the right beat?

And then I get lost. In trying to make my story fit a formula that's supposed to be foolproof, I lose sight of the story itself. A large part of it, I think, is the fear of that period of WHAT THE HECK AM I DOING?! WHAT IS THIS BOOK?! and hoping that a system or formula will help me avoid that.  

“At times in my thinking I take my hands off the handlebars and see what happens. In a poem I do that all the time.”
  -William Stafford 

For me at least, there is NO ESCAPING that period "in the weeds." I will accept that. I will understand that I can use a number of tools to work my way out, but work my way out I will. Eventually. I may need to make a beat sheet or storyboard, but I also may need to just take my hands off the handlebars and knit, or take a walk, or a nap. Or just sit. I'll go further up and further in, and get through. Is that a resolution? I don't know. It's what I'm going to try. Some days it will work, some days it won't. And that's how it is.

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