My Mission Statement
I write to serve, to unite, to educate. I write to share literature and flesh out ideas that may be of interest to others. I write to document an emotion, experience, or a blip in time. My mission is to write in such a way that the reader is reminded that we can find humor in all situations. It's one of the great blessings of life.
Friday, October 12, 2012
Getting Stuck, Unstuck, and Enjoying the Process
So...it has become kind of a joke how LONG I spend on each picture book manuscript. I am fully three years into the one I am *trying* to finish this week (for the umteenth time). It's such a hard process to explain because many times my critique partner has said she likes it, it's ready, etc., but it just didn't feel exactly right. It is amazing that one can spend three years thinking about 400 words. But I can and I am and I did and I have MANY TIMES. Of course, it isn't the only manuscript I've been working on. These past three years have seen probably a hundred manuscripts, but certain ones rise to the top and demand more attention--like this one. Now that I am toward the end of the process (am I?), I have taken to agonizing over one line. ONE LINE. It is a repetitive line, but it is one line all the same. All week long, I have chanted this line, I have walked to this line, I have sung it, played it on the piano, and even twirled to it. I LOVE this character, and she deserves for it to be right. Here's the thing: I know I am annoying the hell out of everyone in my world. From my writing partner to my kids to my husband who have heard so many versions of this story, they feel like the MC is a part of the family. An annoying part of the family. A part of the family who Mom obsesses over! And I get that, I do. But it doesn't annoy me. I enjoy it. I love the process. I love to make language sing. It is delightful and fun and inspiring and creative, and every day I truly love my character more than I did the day before. But TODAY is the day I get that line. TODAY is the day I write twenty more options and commit, COMMIT, to one. Maybe I should do what Jerry Spinelli suggests, take my character out for a hamburger and interview her. Ask her what SHE wants it to say. Then listen for the answer. I've done that. Or maybe I should change the rest of the story to suit the first line that is rhythmically and lyrically perfect but not as pertinent to the story as I would like. Or maybe I should follow another writing expert's advice, and lop off the first line. Just take it away. Or perhaps that stubborn little girl, that darling little hellion of a protag, will stamp her feet one more time, and the line will fall from the heavens. Or maybe I should paint her. Painting always gets my brain focused on the character, gets me drawn in to the story in a creative, all-encompassing manner. Perhaps, I will do all these things, come up with nothing, and then take a shower. It will come to me in the shower, yes, in all its perfection. My brain will know that the line is SO PERFECT, I could never possibly forget it (since I don't have a pen in the shower). I will celebrate with a deep conditioner, and by the time the 3 minutes are up, the line will be gone. NO, NO. It won't happen that way. I will take a pen in the shower. Or set it on the edge of the tub anyway. Or jump out immediately. I mean, I have slept the last three nights with a pen and notebook beside me in bed. Did I mention how much my husband loves this process? If only, the perfect line will come..... But here's the cool part. The perfect line WILL come because it always does. Because this cool, creative process always works. That's why I love this work, this job, this creative life of mine. P.S. I'll keep you POSTED (pun intended) on the progress of my line.
Posted by Donna Jones Koppelman at 8:02 AM