Ode To My Brain

One more awesome thing about Creative Hours: I reach for writing before I even notice that it’s 8pm. See? I can be trained.

So this post is about my brain. Specifically, my subconscious. Why? Because it’s freaking AMAZING.

You have to be damned talented to write well in a very limited space. Some of the most elegant, beautiful stories I’ve read are only a few lines long. Me? I’m not that good. I write very few short stories for a reason; mostly, I write novels.

The challenge of novels is the sheer length. It demands so many details and components, I don’t think it’s possible to be fully aware of them all at once. I’ve tried. It just results in a headache.

That’s where the subconscious comes in. Trust it. Especially when you’re on your fourth or fifth draft. By then, the story is written on your bones. Maybe you can’t hold everything in your mind at once, but it’s there anyway.

My example:

I have issues with transitions. Knowing this allows me to be more aware of them when I’m editing, and I just finished editing a novel draft. So I had a one- or two-sentence transition I wasn’t satisfied with. I crossed it out and started writing. (Yes, I do all my drafts long-hand.)

I didn’t plan what I wrote. I just wanted a better, smoother transition. I didn’t realize what I’d done until I finished.

The transition had become a mini-scene of its own, in which two characters whose relationship had been a bit murky to me before became clear. The exchange between these two in the next scene made a sense it didn’t before, and that exchange was key for the end to function properly.

My brain did this throughout the editing process. I’d replace a piece of writing and only later realize how it tied details together and properly foreshadowed future events…

There’s a sense of serendipity to it all that I am butchering in my attempt to explain.

My point is that I could make a complete list of details to tie together, events to foreshadow, etc. and I’d never make it come out right. I have to know the story, of course (it’s a lot harder to have work so well on a first draft, though happens); there is just too much for me to plan everything. But that doesn’t mean it won’t work out better than I could have imagined.

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