The Work of Writing: Week Four Update


I DID IT! PROOF: Screen Shot 2013-09-25 at 9.56.09 AMI wrote more or less 25 pages of flash fiction, as promised, all STRONGLY centered around a theme, which means that the blurry little file you see above contains the bones of a flash fiction chapbook. Don't get me wrong, it's as rough as cuticles soaked in lemon water and then sandpapered until they bleed. Many of the pieces are incomplete, none of them are edited. At least one ends mid-action because I just couldn't right then. I desperately need to do some fact checking, because I need to know where all the world's biggest forests are.

But it exists now, and it's ALL MIIIIIIIIIIIINE.



1. It is kind of harder to write 5 individual pieces of short fiction than to write 5 pages of a story. Coming up with five mini-worlds in a breathless row is no walk in the park. You have to keep regenerating your brain. Like a severed earthworm.

2. But at the same time, it's kind of easier. Because coming up with new ideas is a sort of energy. Writing a lot of different scenes/pieces creates its own momentum; you're like dang gurl that one was awesome, let's do another one! SHOTS SHOTS SHOTS SHOTS SHOTS SHOTS! Caveat: this sort of energy is not sustainable.

3. If you love to lay on the grass, gazing at trees until your idea crystallizes into perfection, you should try this method of writing sometime. My inner perfectionist was writhing in agony all week, believe me. "STOOOOP! It's not PERFECT!" Don't get me wrong, there's nothing to celebrate about sloppiness--except for the fact that sometimes, it gets the job done. I had moments of self-doubt, worrying that I wasn't writing consciously enough, that I was picking characters and situations arbitrarily, but then I just decided to trust the mad rivers down which I was careening. I can sit around all day wondering exactly what to name a character, but at the end of the day, my instinctual knowledge of the name's rightness is going to be the only thing that informs me. Not my hours of deliberation.

4. Variations on a theme will produce a lot of questionable material but if you do enough variations, THE WORLD WILL SPLIT OPEN FOR YOU AND YOU WILL SEE WHAT YOU WERE LOOKING FOR. You can burn my first 23 pieces as long as I can keep the 24th.

This was a truly great month. I like writing. I really do. I know it was a lot of talk about my writing and my work and my feelings about writing, but I hope it was sort of illuminating and interesting for you, too--it's always helpful, I think, when "writers" talk about their "process." (Sorry, just vommed.) Because at the end of the day:

PS - I've been writing about controversies over at Bustle lately, if you're looking for some internet reading to accompany that massive spoonful of Nutella:

Should Men Wear Makeup, or Should We All Just Stop Pretending? (a response to Farhad Manjoo's final Slate column)

Forever 21, Curator of All Things "Compton," is Offending People Yet Again

A Brief Defense of Fashion's Artistic Significance

And here's me applying eye makeup to the Rocky theme song, BECAUSE I COULD: The Impossible Cat-Eye