Tag Archives: on writing

January light

I spent this gray, sleety morning babysitting my granddaughters. They are 4 and 2 and when I’m with them, I am approximately 3. We started off with a few educational puzzles, but somehow the puzzle pieces became dishes, and some beads became picnic food, and off we went into Imagination-ville. We rode bikes and drove cars (got caught in a nasty traffic jam and had to be rescued by a crane, which let me tell you was hair-raising), visited a playground, broke bones, visited the hospital, befriended a monkey, ate broccoli-cranberry ice cream (better than you think) and in between had many lullabies and bedtime stories (people who live in Imagination-ville only sleep about 20 seconds a night, it turns out, but they spend a LOT of time getting ready for bed).

Of course we never called it Imagination-ville. While we were there, we just lived it, moment to exciting moment. Who knew what would happen next? We were the bosses of the universe, but the universe still surprised us.

When I write, I live in my imagination, yet even in my first drafts I’m at least faintly aware of bending the arc, shaping a cohesive whole. I feel the constraints of Story tugging at me. But this morning I just played. No need for a beginning, middle and end, or a plot that lasted more than a minute. We did have a theme, though. I’m pretty sure it was: Wow! Life is amazing!

Digging In

The Department of Funny Things I Never Realized:

A lot of my books have holes in them.

Not plot holes (I hope)–actual holes. In the ground.

A geologist sets up a dig on the island
Cody and Spencer investigate a giant hole in his grandmother’s back yard

Duh

Khalil and Mr. Hagerty dig for treasure (the greatest of which, as if turns out, is their friendship)


This makes me smile. One of the metaphors I use when I talk to students is how writing can be like digging. At first you’ll turn up all sorts of stuff, some of it interesting (save that), but much of it expected and dross-y. Keep digging (in other words, drafting). The deeper you go, the more digging (and revising) you do, the closer you’ll come to uncovering the things that only you can find.

There’s also the idea of the funny, weird rock your shovel turns up. You wash the dirt off, polish it up, discover it’s in fact a gem…

BUT…I only just realized how much I write about ACTUAL REAL HOLES. Which makes me think again how little I really, truly know, about how my stories come to be. Which is frustrating on one hand, and kind of wonderful on the other.

Now please excuse me because I have a sudden irresistible urge to go out and dig in my garden…