"But it isn't Easy," said Pooh to himself... "Because Poetry and Hums aren't things which you get, they're things which get you. And all you can do is go where they can find you."
~The House at Pooh Corner-----
I had a revelation this morning. It relates to my favorite writing quote, which is above, and it is this:
The reason I am having such a hard time with the last bits of my novel is that I am trying to write my novel.
Let me explain.
1. The best novels are those which you can pick up, read a little, and say, "Aah. Yes. This is going to be good." You relax into them, fall into their worlds, become their characters. Editor Cheryl Klein talks about this in reference to Harry Potter; one of the reasons it's so successful is that Harry's world is so complete, so detailed, so painstakingly and entertainingly shown.
2. The only way to write novels like that is to relax into them, to fall into their worlds, and become their characters. As a wise new friend from my coffee shop put it, you have to describe the story, rather than try to create the story. You have to channel like a medium, put your ego aside and let your subconscious do the work.
3. This is impossible to do if you are trying to write as fast as you can, or trying to force the novel to go in one direction when it clearly wants to go in another. It's also impossible if your brain is full of blather from elsewhere in your life, or if half your brain is wondering how long the baby will nap, or whether those other kids on the bus are watching you, or if your hand gets tired writing because you took too many days off in a row and got out of shape. Or if your inner editor won't shut up.
So what to do? How to get rid of the blather and the deadlines? I have been utilizing the less-than-effective screaming at yourself approach: "Could you just freakin' get a grip and FOCUS for a second so you can finish the darn thing NOW. IT NEEDS TO BE DONE YESTERDAY AND IT STINKS!!! FOCUS, YOU PITIFUL SLOB! NOW WRITE! AAAAAH!!!!!"
I wouldn't recommend it.
Instead, as usual, Pooh is right. You can't go get the story. All you can do is relax and show up at the page, every day, and be ready for the story to find you. And being ready means being ready to write, but it also means being focused and relaxed at the same time. It means being open to what your characters are telling you and putting your ego aside so you can describe instead of manipulating. It also makes the whole process much more fun.
So, thanks to a chance conversation and to Pooh and probably not in small part to Walt Whitman, I am writing furiously, but relaxedly, and it's fun again, and it's really good and I must go back to it now...
Now you, too, go write.