Monday, July 9, 2007

The Work

Sometimes, when I'm plotting a new entry on why hwae dop bop is both delicious and hilarious, or how the humidity is driving me to watch a lot of questionable movies, I remember that this blog is supposed to be a "professional" writer's blog. Ahahaha, I say to myself, but then I try to think of something writerly to say.

One thing I've been thinking about recently is how a story can be revised and revised and revised again, until not one word nor the structure nor even the events of the plot are similar to what was contained in the first draft, and yet it's still the same story. According to my files, the thing I am revising now is on version five. The themes and motifs (incorrect plural form, as to distinguish from "motives") have changed, and minor characters have disappeared and reappeared. Whole subplots that were only implied are now stated right out (I *hate* stating things straight out) and lots of background has altered substantially. Still, what I was trying to say in the first draft and I am still trying to say. The only reason I'm changing the story is that that first draft befuddled everyone to the extent that they didn't know I was trying to say that. Actually, that was the problem with versions 2, 3, and 4, too. But 5 is going to be the winner.

I'm not only ranting on about *this* story, though it is much in my mind. More generally, I'm startled by how many different ways there are to approach not only the same materials/ideas but the same events. It's like when you ask advice on how to get to a certain place. There's always a couple different buses you could take, or go by subway, and if you're driving, a huge knot of arguments about surface routes vs. highways, and which highway, etc. etc.

This analogy comforts me, because while you might save five minutes on one bus over another, you always get there eventually. I think that probably there is no One True Way to tell this story I'm trying to tell. There's any number of fairly expedient versions of the thing, I just have to find one of them and execute it. No magic, no Ur-story, just a serviceable vehicle and gas for the long haul.

The very long haul. I've been working on this story since October and hope very much to be done soon. I guess this is why they call it the writer's craft, not the writer's lightning bolt. Sigh. Nevertheless, tonight I will go eat some hwae dop bop and watch *Live Free or Die Hard,* a story that I believe has been told in a number of different ways before now.

Don't wanna end up a cartoon in a cartoon graveyard


Kerry said...

All along all along there were incidents and accidents, hints and allegations.

I love this entry.

Lunch or coffee soon?


The Chapati Kid said...

It is so true. So true. So frustrating. I sat in the Hart House library today, sweltering in the still air. So I had to go for a swim, and then I sat in the library again with a wet towel over my head and tried to think of how the hell after two years, my entire story's come back to the very first one I wrote in this program.

5cents said...

Ya'll writers and lit majors are really another species entirely. It's fascinating.