Blurry, squishy clay

This is my first blog post in the new home for Write at Your Own Risk, and as I typed these words, I had a feeling they might show up under my WordPress blog instead.  Yep!  For a while, it was an effort that went nowhere at all…like so many of my pages in so many of my drafts.

Sometimes when I do author visits, I show a picture of pot making.  I ask kids how they think a potter starts out.  They usually tell me earnestly that a potter must start out by making A Plan.  I earnestly want A Plan whenever I start writing something new, too.  Plans should work!  Why don’t they?  (And maybe they sometimes do.)

Usually, though, I have to get up to my elbows in clay.  I have to feel confused and lost and messy.  I have to goosh and squoosh that clay around for a while before I can start shaping.

I wonder if this strange process has something to do with the same thing that happens when I move.  Every time I’ve moved (and I’ve lived in seven different places in five states in my adult life so far), it takes me about a year before my cells settle into the new spot.  Until then, no matter how I try to force the situation, I feel uneasy and strange and not-at-home.

An editor I was listening to one time talked about an author who sent drafts of stories and each one was clearer…the way a photograph (in the old days of printing) might gradually come out of the developing fluid with sharper and sharper details.

Maybe some stories–like some places–simply have to be lived into.  Backed into.  We coax out one fuzzy image after another until something pops…and runs clear.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Blurry, squishy clay

  1. martineleavitt

    This is pure wisdom. We don’t talk about this enough: that stories have to “be lived into.” Perfectly said.

  2. sharrywright

    I love this–the idea of backing in and living with our stories over time. And the comparison to a slowly developing photograph with the story growing clearer and clearer with each draft. Thank you for this.

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