Traversing the corpus callosum

and other daunting journeys…

Being “between drafts” at the moment (a state comparable I am sure in its effect of throwing one into helpless limbo to being between jobs or between careers), I am doing my best to put this nebulous freedom to some practical use. Ergo, I am dutifully wending my way through the four-foot-high stack of books by my bedside, among them a couple of recommended volumes on revision (thank you, Hugh! :slight_smile: ).

Much useful material, some of which I have encountered before, some new, or put in valuably clarifying new bottles. And so I come to my next and most recent dilemma. How does one move this information–say, suggestions on clearly stating character goals per scene, selecting and revising scenes to reflect overall theme, etc etc.–from a front-brain, hideously rational and conscious state (which in my case anyway tends to produce stiff, lifeless, formulaic writing) to a more fully incorporated, subconscious “approach” (wherein one’s attitude and instinctive handling of such technicalities predominates)? In other words, from left to right brain? (In this vein I highly recommend My Stroke of Insight, by Jill Bolte Taylor, a neuroscientist who temporarily “lost” her left brain to a massive hemorrhage and subsequently fully recovered to tell the tale).

My guess is time, and patience, and some attempt to tune in to the muse, none of which I’m known to embrace without grumbling. I do my best writing, and this is a firm belief, when I am half-comatose. NOT that this speaks of any particular talent. :unamused: But since poor vic-k is otherwise occupied these days, and the martini supplies run low, if anyone has any suggestions to the contrary, I’d be most grateful.


I live in NJ as well, a place that resembles the planet Venus right now after steady weeks of rain. Well, it seems that way, but in truth, Portland has nothing on us. I’ve decided that I need to give Scott Fitzgerald another chance. I just watched the Benjamin Button film and realized I’d never read that story, nor any other stories by FSF except “Babylon Revisited.”

My students always gushed over This Side of Paradise and The Great Gatsby, books that I thought were self-indulgent and sloppy about the wrong ideas and people. And none of the kids ever seemed to realize that Gatsby winds up dead at the bottom of a swimming pool, exposed as a phony.

I have a greater admiration for Tender is the Night and my favorite collection is The Crack-Up, where he faces the stark consequences of his wasted talent. But now I need to grab his stories and read them through. I know that many were magazine pot-boilers, but still he had a knack for imagining odd twists of fate and pathos.

So, if you are in a mood for rainy-eve reading in this Spring That Will Never Come, I recommend a few of Fitzgerald’s stories, the Button movie if you’ve not seen it, and a Sazerac with whiskey, for these chill nights. Congratulations on finishing your draft, and after you’ve rested, full speed ahead.


PS: I forgot to give you any advice about how to move forward. Let it rest awhile, maybe a month. Have a friend read it. Go back when you’ve forgotten the struggle of drafting and think about the following: how do I CUT this down by one-third or a half? What digressions, sub-plots, and characters do I eliminate? Where can I convert description into dialogue (reversing the Show, Don’t Tell mantra) and vice-versa? Can I write a one-page pitch? Can I summarize the book in a sound bite, as I will when telling it to Oprah? Then…hit them keys.

Ok. Not writing in the real sense of what you do, but for me it is coding (writing software) following “standards”. Here is what I do.

  1. Write my way for 30 minutes.
  2. Get coffee.
  3. Transform out put from #1 to standard.
  4. Realize you did #3 wrong and throw coffee.
  5. Repeat #3.
  6. Go to store and buy new cup.
  7. Go to #1.

For me it takes about 80 hours to develop a habit. Now the difference is that this is just “working a different way” so it may not be as effective since what you are producing is more creative than what I produce.

Good luck.

Dear Molly’s Mum,

Please go out and ride your horse.


Oh Dave, thanks, I would do just that, but as Druid points out, the ground is soup around here. Yesterday we splashed around in the sandwater for about 45 minutes which necessitated another 45 of hosing off boots, legs, tummies, girth and stirrups. Not fun at all for man or beast. :frowning: (Where in Jersey are you, Druid? And I gather you teach–can I ask where re. that, too?) And thank you for the reading suggestions–I haven’t read Tender is the Night for ages, but it’s one of my favorites. I’ll go dig it up tonight. Thanks, too, for the revision suggestions. I do need to put it aside for at least a month, pending the outcome of my daughter’s surgery (not that there is really any question about that; I am just “on call” as Mater Superior for the next while). And I most certainly DO need to cut it; this loose baggy monsterette is 133,000 words plus. Thanks, Scrivener, for making me so prolific! :unamused: :laughing:

Jaysen, as for your comment

, I would disagree. I think creating something out of nothing is–well, creating,no matter what field you’re in. I don’t think there are degrees of being creative. So thank you. And I hope it’s not the Scrivener mug you’re hurling at the wall (or the computer screen). :open_mouth:

And frankly, I can’t fathom why Oprah hasn’t called yet. My husband is still waiting to hear from Obama’s team, too! Can you believe these people?? As if they think we’ll be here forever at their beck and call. Harrumph.


Also see “conscious competence” - a well known stage everybody goes through while going from learning to full competence, in any field.

I’m muddling my way through that stage in editing right now :slight_smile: