Some Times You Just Have to Trust the Process: Really?
“I’ve never thought of writing as the mere arrangement of words on the page but the attempted embodiment of a vision; a complex of emotions; raw experience. The effort of memorable art is to evoke in the reader or spectator emotions appropriate to that effort.”
― Joyce Carol Oates
Writing is a Process:
Well... no shit Sherlock! Every time someone tries to remind me writing is a process when I'm venting about how long it's taking me to finish the second book, I want to peel my skin off my face and slap them with it. Of course, writing is a process. We learn the writing process in grade school. We all remember the brightly colored poster hanging beside the chalk board...God, I'm so freaking old, 😂. Right? Everyone remembers the writing process, and knowing it doesn't make me feel any better about my process. Because, there is a difference between the writing process and my writing process.
If this was what my writing process looked like, I'd publish 1000 books a year. They'd probably suck, but I could kick them out with little or no thought. However, this is not what my writing process looks like. I'm going to attempt to fit my creative process into the neat ovals and bright colors of this infamously misleading writing process poster, but I will warn you, it won't be so neat and bright when I'm done with it. Why? Keep reading and you'll understand.
But before I get started with my rework of this poster, I want to take a moment to share some of my most loathed platitudes from people who have never, ever attempted to creatively write anything. Not even there name in block lettering. It's not that I don't appreciate well intended words of encouragement but when people offer up their empty words, unsolicited; I just can't with them. Those who have never tried and will never endeavor to write fiction have no room to advise me on what and how my process should be.
My Least Favorite Words of Encouragement:
- Some times, you just have to trust the process and make it work for you.
- You can't rush what won't come to you.
- Take your time and see what happens.
- Maybe your story just ain't ready to be told, yet.
- You just need a change of scenery. Go write by the lake or something.
- When I feel stuck, I smoke some weed and things get real clear for me afterwards.
- Not everybody with a good imagination is supposed to tell stories, maybe you'd be better at painting.
Now, back to fitting my writing process into the neat and bright poster pictured above. Already, I see about 2300 problems and I'm only looking at the green pencil in the corner. I'm stalling. In the great words of the people whose words mean so little to me, "some times, you just have to trust the process..." Here goes nothing or everything. I don't know which.
Prewriting: Time to think!
I wake up in the middle of the night because I heard a voice in my head and didn't sound like my own. There's a strong sense of masculine energy infused with subtler hints of danger and sex. I don't have an image of him, but his voice is very distinct and it made me a little afraid and excited at the same time. I sift through my thought and try to follow the trail of magic he left, but I can't find it and now I'm wide awake with a create hard-on for a voice and dangerous sex. Damn, I hope he comes back and properly introduces himself to me.
I grab my phone from the floor beside my bed and blind myself when I wake it up. After the spots have cleared from my vision, I go to my Google Keep It app and take down my note. I describe the voice and the sense I got from it. Record how it made me feel and why I really want to get to know the man behind the voice and danger and sex. Then, I toss my phone back down on the floor, roll over, and become the big spoon for a couple more hours until it's time to get up.
Revising: Time to improve my writing!
I sit down at my writing desk and stare out the window at my neighbors Japanese maple tree and notice how the rusty copper colored leaves are coming in and how it contrast with the dead brown leaves still scattered in her side yard and then I wonder if nature is trying to reveal some kind of truth to me, but abandon the thought when I remember how that voice woke me up and called me from a dead woman's sleep and then left me with a vague sense of the man behind it.
I get up, go and pick my phone up from the floor, and open my app where I took the note and read over what I said in hopes it will conjure up some kind of image and purpose in my mind. Nothing. Bupkis. It could very-well be because while I thought I was fully awake and recording the beautiful subtleties of his aura, I was really writing it all down in Klingon language. I don't read or speak Klingon and wan't aware I even knew how to write it. So, yeah... I pretty much have to sit at my laptop, stare out the window and beg the voice to come back and introduce himself to me. Stop being a wussy and make himself known.
Once I've cataloged all the wildlife outside my window, I sense him and finally. Finally! I open my word document and ask my mystery voice to tell me his story. All of it. Even the parts he, himself is unaware of. I tell the voice I want to pick the flesh and muscle from his bones, squeeze every emotion from the blood pumping through his heart; the magic dusting his soul. I implore the voice to open his skull and poor the thoughts into my waiting cup; let it run over and flow like rivers. And then... it happens. Such an ordinary and simple thing, really. But out of thin air, the voice is a man. He opens his melted milk-chocolate eyes and extends his large, well-used hand and speaks in that dangerously sexy voice that makes me feel like smoke is floating over my skin. Heating me from the inside out.
"Hi, Ella. I'm Jonathan Raynard Ellis and I want you to tell the world about how I broke the soul of a broken girl all because I love her."
Editing: Time to make things correct!
I spend about four or four thousand months with John. He walks me through his home town, introduces me to his mother, her husband. Shows me where he likes to get burgers and fries after his football games. I watch him lose his virginity and then become something I didn't even knew could exist and I think I'm kinda half-way in love with him. He shows me the darkness living inside him. How he doesn't want to be the way he is, but he also doesn't want to change it.
He's not shy with his opinions as he shares my days and night with me. Constantly letting me know what he thinks about what I'm thinking. What I'm doing. I have to give him my body so he can show me how he holds his pen when he writes love letters. I give him my face as we look in the bathroom mirror because he wants me to know exactly what he looks like when he comes. It was one of the sexiest faces I'd ever seen 🔥!
We spend every waking and sleeping moment together. And somehow, during all this time together; I managed to record his story as he shared it with me. And because we've spent so much time together, I've even managed to capture his aura--his essence.
He gives me directions about what he wants to keep and how he wants some things changed. We go back and forth about a few things, but mostly we agree on everything because I've shared his world and he's shared mine. In the end, we are simply polishing and buffing his immortalization from matte to illustrious.
Publishing: Time to share my writing!
Pain. In. My. Ass. Publishing is a labor of... I don't know what to call the self-publishing process. I don't want to talk about it, not really. Somehow, that process is even more personal than my writing process. Just trust me when I tell you, I publish and share my writing with whomever wants to read it.
My writing process summarized!
I have never sat down to plan out my novels. NEVER! My characters come to me, one by one, and tell me their stories. I have to figure out where there is overlap and who's perspective is most credible, but really I mostly hang out with the people in my head. Get lost in their world. Turn over my mind, body, and soul until there's nothing about them I don't know and nothing about me they don't know. The novel sort of unfolds as we all get to know each other.
I once thought what I was doing was prewriting, then I realized once I went back to read over my notes, I had completed the first draft of my first novel. I like to take a break from the people in my head before we have to get into the nitty-gritty of fighting and each other about all the petty shit they feel needs to be included and all the substantial shit I know needs to be included.
I'm just realizing, I act more as an editor than the actual writer. It feels like my characters write the novel and I'm simply here to guide their process and make sure what they want to be said and understood is actually said and understood.
Remember, everyday is opportunity to be brave, be beautiful, and be enchanting. Happy reading, happy writing.