Friday, September 7, 2012

7 days after 3 days

I didn't manage, as you may have noticed, to blog my 3-Day Novel writing. I tried so hard to stay offline that I could only allow myself to post a daily wordcount on Facebook. Which didn't prevent me finding random things I needed to research for 'inspiration' (excuses, excuses) online.

On the debit side, I went in tired and mentally unprepared, because somehow, with dealing entirely with the Transparent apple harvest, followed by the Living History Week, followed by a week of unpacking and washing linens after Living History Week, I hadn't given myself time to put together an outline, come up with an opening scene, or sketch a couple of characters.
What I did have was my brother's request / suggestion that I write about our childhood, particularly the summer of looking for ways into other worlds.
After a couple of days of muttering 'memoir is not story', I remembered a half-formed idea I'd had of conflict between a young man and his mother over her ebay habit:  she is attempting to recreate her childhood home or room so she can throw herself back in time to it.
As said at Viable Paradise, two half-baked ideas can make one good one. So I thought I'd go with mashing those up.
Three storylines:  a) present-day, from the son's POV, watching his mother's behaviour with some trepidation but not wanting to take away her independence. This because I'd wanted to write from a male POV, which I haven't done since Fold, I guess, and to keep some mystery going about what the old woman was up to (especially since I didn't know myself yet).
b) past, from the child's pov, she and her brother exploring the woods, playing make-believe, getting into petty crime with a neighbour boy, with the real-world worry of their own mother's health.
c) meta: an adventure story by the child, mixing in elements of her own life with bits from books she's read.

It was unexpectedly difficult to write autobiographical material. That old guideline of 'write what you know' has never rung particularly true to me, and not just because I write fantasy by preference. Sure, experiences like the death of parents, or miscarriage, or moving away, are things I draw on, but not necessarily directly. The emotions are mirrored, distorted, scraped off and re-applied.
The big obstacle to writing from life was knowing what to leave out. When I imagine a scene, I don't see every brick in the wall or even every character in the room. When I remember a scene, I remember too much of it, especially the before-and-after parts. What's relevant? I don't know, especially when writing something that's as improvisational as a 3-Day Novel.
Looking back, I wish I'd let my fingers run more often, and just filled the time with words, even if it did mean starting many hares that were never caught. But I was worrying, up until Monday late morning, about where the story was going, and whether I was building towards any kind of conclusion, let alone a satisfying one.  Monday morning I finally got an idea, and wrote the ending, so the rest of the day was bringing the story up to that ending.

I changed names and conflated incidents, but I'm not sure how I feel about other people seeing this one (says she, who sent it off to a panel of unknown judges on Tuesday). Rather, I don't mind strangers seeing it, but having written it sort of for my brother, I don't know how I'd feel about showing it to him. Whether the hesitation springs from the made-up parts or the from-memory parts, I'm not sure.

Ah well. Wordcounts: Midnight on Saturday, 6019 words; 11 pm on Sunday, 12019 words; midnight on Monday, 17400 words by Scrivener count.
ETA: Here's my banner, courtesy of the 3-Day rep. 
Beginning and ending were young Sandy's story, beginning PRIVATE! DO NOT LOOK! and ending To be continued...


Terri-Lynne said...

Oh, love--show it to him!! (Him, being your brother.) He knows what's there just as you do. It will come as no surprise.

The story sounds intriguing--meaty. Go you! I'm always so impressed when you do these things.

"The emotions are mirrored, distorted, scraped off and re-applied."
Best way I've ever seen "write what you know" described. THAT is the gist of it, not getting things verbatim.

As always, you inspire me!

batgirl said...

Aww, thanks! I may have to do something further with this story - I keep thinking of things I should have done differently, or given more space in the story. I know there's too much ambiguity, even for a story that's meant to be ambiguous and literary.
Maybe I'll play with it for Nanowrimo?

Terri-Lynne said...

Play, yes--PLAY!

batgirl said...

One more month to get this draft of Silver ready to ship, then I can think about Nanoing....