Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Inside every great writer is a vicious sado-masochist

It has not been easy focusing on my novel the last few days--making travelling plans, getting sick, and discombobulating my hand have all sort of distracted me. But at least I have some stories in the pipeline that need editing. Sometimes, the word-weaving part of my brain gets bogged down by the minutiae of life; the analytical part is always ready to lock'n'load.

I think this has something to do with my training in science and philosophy. There is nothing like pounding through Kant at 3 in the morning to get your brain worked into shape. It's like a reflex action--make sense or ship out, soldier! Actually, when I think about it, I'm not sure why they don't just change the course title from "Critical Thinking and Introduction to Logic" to the much more honest "Brain Boot Camp." They'd probably get a lot more recruits ... er, majors.

Sometimes it's dangerous to have a brain ready to leap to attention, fully prepared to dig a foxhole and rake your ideas across the muddy trenches. It's a sure way to slow down production on a first draft of anything. But I like to spew out first drafts and let them lurk on my hard drive for a while. Have a bad day at work? Bam! I just take out my frustrations on some unworthy adverbs. Feel a little brain dead? I'll feel like a genius after I've chewed out the stupid idiot who changed her main character's name from "Aline" to "Alina" halfway through a story. (Yeah, that happened last week. Doh.)

I do get a little concerned with my mental health when I find myself enjoying the sheer nastiness of my internal editor (I'm also worried by just how much pleasure I take in tormenting my characters). I'm not sure if it's healthy to exult in the shredding and berating of the word-producing segment of my brain--or if that part of my psyche should be so happy to see its work carved up and beaten. But when I get done with a good editing session, I just feel upbeat and energetic, like I've had a good workout. It's usually the right thing to get me back on track and ready to produce some new words.

They'll be sloppy words, of course. Overweight and ready for a trip to the Editing Bitch--and that kind of puts a smile on my face.

[If you enjoyed the over-stretched metaphors in this blog entry, thank you. You're a kindred spirit. If you did not, well, you probably have good taste--and I should invite you to be one of my critical readers. ;) ]

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