Friday, March 04, 2011

Writing Dreams

It's taken me a while to notice, but I've started having a new kind of dream somewhere in these last few months, in which my sleeping brain is trying to figure out how to put together various stories.  I never remember them when I wake up, which I do quite frequently on the nights that I have these dreams (I had several last night, and am grumpy and groggy this morning as a result), but I remember snippets, and they all have to do with fitting the moving parts of a story together into a shapely, coherent whole.

Oddly enough, none of them seem to have anything to do with any of my current projects, though I wish that they did a little.  Or maybe not.  Being that I don't remember anything of them after it probably wouldn't do me any good, anyway.

As a writer, storytelling is my kryptonite, which fact I freely admit (see previous sentence clause).  Due to my cussedness as a person, I spent the first decade of my self-taught writing apprenticeship obsessing over my prose style (with largely pleasing results), but it wasn't until Clarion that I started to think in any systematic way about what to do with said prose style.  Partly it had to do with the fact that I primarily, read, write, and think in novel-sized chunks; there's just a lot more room to play and experiment there.

But you can't do that shit in a short story for the most part.  There just isn't time, or room. 

I remember my first one-on-one at Clarion.  It was a hot, sunny Friday afternoon, a week into the workshop.  I had just had my first story critiqued, and it smarted (oh, how it smarted), and I was meeting with the estimable Delia Sherman to discuss another story of mine (which I had been quite proud of, before I knew any better).  Long story short, she basically told me to read it again, scrap it completely, and start over, which took all of two minutes, and then we talked about my strengths and weaknesses as a writer, which was, as you might expect, rather bracing.  The gist of what she had to say was that I did the grad-level stuff very well, but that I failed the basic, elementary school stuff almost completely.  On the plus side, she reassured me that once I got to figuring it out, it would come to me easily enough.

And I assume that's what's happening now, with these dreams.  They are my brain rearranging itself in such a way that I will become better at arranging the depolyment of narrative, backstory, character, and plot in a more pleasing shape.  That's what I hope, at least. 

If nothing else, they're way better than the bartending dreams I used to have.  Those were just annoying.

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