Thursday, May 30, 2013

Writing Under Pressure

I’ve been racing toward my goals, working on two manuscripts at once. That’s new for me, but it’s working … sort of. I guess.
My first fifty pages of a mystery are ready to send to the Killer Nashville Claymore contest. Deadline is June 1st and thankfully, I can email my pages.

The romance I pitched to Harlequin is sloshing along. I’ll devote more time and intensity to it starting tomorrow. I hope to have it completed within the next two or three weeks. At least, that’s my new goal. I devoted my six hours at the library yesterday to the contest entry. Seems a little weird, doesn’t it, that I wouldn’t devote that valuable time to the novel requested by an editor. All I can say is … my reasoning skills are sometimes skewed.  
We’re constantly under tornado watches here in Oklahoma. I find it difficult to concentrate on much of anything. The local news is filled with profiles of the people from Moore who experienced devastation last week. Depressing but uplifting too. There were a lot of heroes.

Hubby and I went to Half-Price Books over the weekend. Browsing the writing books, I came across an interesting paragraph in Writing Under Pressure, The Quick Writing Process by Sanford Kaye.

Sanford Kaye is head of the writing program at Curry College. He is author of Writing under Pressure and Writing as a Lifelong Skill as well as a contributor on memoir writing to NOW WRITE! He has taught writing at MIT, the Harvard Kennedy School, and the Blue Hills Writing Institute, where he teaches advanced memoir. He was honored for 25 years of teaching at the Extension School in 2005 and received the James E. Conway Excellence in Teaching Writing Award in 1996.

Writing Under Pressure is geared toward writing academic papers and essays.  I suppose much of what Sanford says can be adapted to novel writing too. While a lot of what he proposes is over my head, the following spoke to me, gave me something to think about as I muddle through my novel.

“No amount of planning can make the reader hear the music in your mind, or see the abstract design you perceive as you look out over a cranberry bog coming to fruition in late September.  Writing can convey certain things well, and others not at all.”

Care to comment on the above paragraph? How hard do you work/plan to convey important scenes and settings in your novels or short stories?


Charles Gramlich said...

I don't know about the conveying "some things not at all." I'd have to see an example of what he's talking about there.

Jess * Jessie * Jessy said...

Charles - Examples: "Your essay on banning cigarettes in public places, or your memo on how to maximize profits while still maintaining goodwill almost never convinces readers directly or gives them a sense you have the final answer. Writing a scene between a husband and wife, even if based on an amalgam of your own experiences and those of your friends and relatives, will not match the actual time, space or feelings of such moments. Writers can evoke similar responses, but such attempts involve risk and experimentation."