Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Fade-Out

Have you ever been talking to someone about your craft, your draft, your chapter, etc. and notice the slow fade-out as their eyes glaze over and they offer a sloppy stream of "uh-huh", "uh-huh"...

Don't take insult, folks. I've turned this on the flip-side. I don't think writers actually appreciate how hard, complex, and esoteric their craft really is. And when our partners in conversation turn into robots on us, I think it's due to the fact that they have never experienced what we have.

When I discuss writing a draft, or editing a paragraph, members of a writers' community will have an idea of what I'm dealing with - what it means to put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) and find a story there, or at least, try to find a story there.

Imagine what those 'others' are hearing when we talk about writing. They don't know the effort involved in writing 400 pages of a story and then turning around and doing it all over again, and again, and again...A part of them must think we've gone mad discussing a craft that has no discernible shape or end (until we choose to give it shape and a finale) and that comes literally out of nowhere. Sure, our minds come up with it, but where did our minds get the idea?

Are we tapping into some ancient flow of creativity? Some lifeblood that all writers find running in their veins? What is it that makes us sit down and write. It's not like our minds have an extra vessel, or our hearts pump at different rates. How would one distinguish a writer from an 'other'?

These questions (like many of the sort) are far beyond the realm of human comprehension, so I'll leave them be. But just take a minute today, or at some point in the near future, to ponder just what we're doing here. We're creating, we're a part of something that many do not understand or accomplish themselves. It's a special art that we have privelege to. Feel proud that you're here: reading, learning, sharing, and writing.


Celebc├╣en said...

I know exactly what you're talking about. It had happened to me many times, so now I tend not to talk about writing with people who don't write.

Sometime it happens that people do try to understand, but they simply can't. Lately I tried to explain to a friend of mine why some ideas are better suited for a novel and other just for short stories. He did not undestand. At the end he told me: I don't understand, I'm not a writer.

I don't know whether this is super or disappointing. Sometime this does make me a bit depressed, because it happened that people who should have asserted my work did not undestand what I was saying talkng about writing. Sometime not having an objective way to explain things it's just so depressing.

Tia Nevitt said...

I do know the glazed-over look, and I find a way to turn the conversation after that. I'm very particular about who I talk writing with. Some are quite interested, call themselves writers and yet they never write. The allure of the TV is too strong. Others don't write but enjoy what I'm writing. There are very few of them, and they become my test readers. (Always try to find test readers who aren't writers. They give you another perspective and they focus on the story and characters in the way a writer won't.)

However, I think writing is no more special than any other art. Over the years, I have been an artist and a musician as well as a writer. Each evokes very different emotions, but they are very similar. Music yanks at your emotions and you strive to reach that place where the technical difficulty vanishes and the music carries you through in a way that's almost magic. It's like a runner's high. There's nothing like performance art.

Drawing is very like writing. You have this concept in your head and you are finding the best way to get it on paper. Like writing, it takes more than one draft.

Of the three, I consider myself a writer first, a musician second and an artist third. And it doesn't surprise me at all that this listing also shows the order of my skill. We love to do what we think we are good at.

Sorry I went on so long. I'm also linking you to my writing blog.

Tabitha said...

Ah, the dreaded spaced-out look. :) I get that all the time with non-writers, and even with a few writers. So I just stopped talking about the craft of writing except with people who I know are geeky about it...kinda like me. :)

As to why do we write? That answer is way out there in the universe. I know why I write, but I could never truly understand the motivations of other writers. Or where it all comes from. And that's fine with me. :)

I do agree with Tia that this concept is larger than just writing. I think it's creativity in general. Where do ideas come from? For art, theater, landscaping, technological innovations, architecture, engineering, the list goes on. It's that spark of creativity that can take the common, turn it on its side, then make it uncommon. Even brand new.

Great post. I love pondering stuff like this. :)