Tuesday, October 4, 2011

stepping out of solitary

A couple of days ago I was struggling to write the final chapter of my novel-in-progress. I knew exactly what the ending was going to be, but tying up the loose ends to get to said ending was proving to be a bit of a challenge. (Part of the problem was that my characters had "forgotten" to an address an issue in prior chapters -- yes, I blame it on them -- and I was attempting to confront it in the final chapter.) And so I did the very things I discussed in last week's blog post -- I sought out my trusted inner circle of writers and talked out some possible scenarios for getting from Point A to Point B.

The very act of explaining the scenario to my fellow writers revealed another oversight that could unravel a whole lot more of the plot. They talked it out with me, gave me ideas, asked questions. They were very helpful and I was so grateful to have them to talk it out with. And yet, the re-writing task felt rather daunting.

That same day, my Why I Love Singlehood co-author happened to ask me how the writing was going, and I shared my frustrations. She invited me to send her the chapter for peer review, and I jumped at the chance faster than I pounce upon a package of Pop Tarts.

Sarah responded to the draft no differently than she would have were it a WILS draft--she asked direct questions, made suggestions for word changes, pointed out problems, and assured me that she wanted to keep reading. She could tell where I'd hit my stride as well as where (and when) I'd hit the wall.

It was like being home.

It's funny how, as a writer, you know the difference between showing and telling. You know the former is preferred over the latter. And yet, you don't seem to realize just how much you're telling rather than showing until someone like Sarah points it out to you. I love her ability to do this for me. I love that she chooses words I wouldn't have thought about, and yet they're perfect. I love that she gets me thinking about ways to tie up those loose ends, and reminds me not to take the easy way out. Best of all, I love that the act of her responding to my draft not only made me eager to get back to work on my chapter, but also re-invigorated her excitement for her own work-in-progess.

Perhaps my writing partner and I were just missing each other and our collaboration. We've enjoyed working solo, but we also enjoyed our collaborative process, and all it gave to us.

Writing is so often a solitary act. But every now and then, we need to step out of that solitary confinement and go out into the community of other writers. As I mentioned in last week's post, there comes a point when we need to share our writing, talk things out, and cheer each other on. Perhaps this is a need that not only applies to writers, but to all human beings--the need to belong, to be part of a group or a community. From one writer to another (and from one human to another), I invite and encourage you to find yours.


Elspeth Antonelli said...

I'm in solitary right now, except for my family expecting me to keep on feeding them. Selfish creatures. Wish you were here. With pop tarts.

Elisa said...

I heart you for leaving a comment.

It is just. so. wrong. that we don't live closer. Or that beaming only works on Star Trek.