Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Ex-Pec-Ta- Hmmm


We grow-up being expected to do certain things.

Walk, talk, read, go to school and work hard. Then we have to get jobs, have relationships, maybe marry, have babies. The list is long.

Should we feel bad if these things don't happen the way we thought or follow a linear pattern? No, because we have a brilliant way of adapting to the twisty journey of life. We take it as it comes.

So when we write are our expectations any different?

We set out to write a story and expect our novel will turn out a certain way. We give birth to these characters and they live through our words. We create their world around them.

As literary parents we help them grow. We expect they will to run into some conflict, meet someone, fall in love, get their hearts broken...maybe even fight some sort of giant squid monster who wants to rule the world.

That is, until a plot twist surprises us and we go in another direction. A character pops into our heads we weren't aware of and throws us off course. Or our MC says, 'Are you crazy? I wouldn't do that.'

Should we feel bad for not following the specific course we set out on?

I've learnt that writing doesn't always go from A to B. It likes to be mischievous. Sometimes it forces us to take a trip through G,D,F and back to A before reaching B.

It also raises questions on the expectations we have before we enter the world of edits, queries, submissions and the hundreds of other things that go with the author journey.

That isn't A to B either.

There is a whole world of perseverance, re-writes, edits and more queries before we reach our agent destination. Or, Agent Avenue as I have named it. :)

Then the journey begins a new path...Publication Road.

So why do we do it? Because, in a way, we know the destination is at the end but the journey can take as many paths as you are willing to walk to reach Bookshelf City.

And, maybe even, re-evaluate our expectations occasionally to get there. :)


Talli Roland said...

Agent Avenue! I like it.

I agree - it's rarely a straight line. Which just makes it all that more interesting (and frustrating, but we won't think of that right now...).

Samantha Bennett said...

Beautiful! I agree that the path is windy and unpredictable. But it's the challenge that thrills us, I think. Great post!

Creepy Query Girl said...

I've noticed this toppic touches a lot of writers. I always feel slightly awed at the way my ms develops sometimes of its own accord. It's like magic. I agree that while in the actual first draft writing process- the story just goes where it wants to go. It's after I sit on it for a while and go back to it with fresh eyes and a determination to edit the crap out of it that it all becomes clear and I take back the reigns from my characters.

Mayowa said...

The comparison with parents and their kids is quite apt.

Our stories never do end up like we plan and the journey is just as frustrating

Great post.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

You are absolutely right, Lindsay! And I love the way you said it!! :-)

Lydia Kang said...

ah, those winding roads. Sometimes the twists are lovely and fun, sometimes they're so annoyingly NOT STRAIGHT.
Excellent post.

Hannah said...

Oh, I canNOT wait to get to Bookshelf City by traveling way of Agent Ave. I hope the drive is quick!

Unknown said...

There's always another way...couldn't wait any longer, and knowing my sermons were well received - yes the church sort not the sort the kids in my class had to put up with - I decided to give up waiting - took a creative writing course then taught myself to be an independent publisher. It wasn't too hard or two expensive - learned on Google - and am making good progress. But of course, at my age, I have the time to do it...hugs..

Angela said...

Many times you hear someone refer to their novel as "their baby" but you have done such a wonderful job explaining what exactly that means! Excellent post :).

Traci B said...

What a creative way to look at the process. Love this!

Martina Boone said...

Love the idea of an Agent Avenue. It implies there is never a dead end, and I believe that's true as long as we keep learning, growing, and submitting. We have Cole Gibsen on the blog today for Wow Weds, and she pointed out that she got hundreds of rejections for years. Just last week her agent got her a two-book deal with Flux. Agent Avenue isn't paved with gold, but looking around on the journey is worthwhile because of all the amazing people you meet, the great blogs you read, and the things you learn along the way.

Fantastic post!

Lindsay said...

Talli. Yeah, we won't touch on the frustrating bits. :)

Samantha. Good point. Sometimes I think we forget how energised a challenge can make us feel. Perhaps this channels into our writing?

Creepy Query Girl. Great points. The first draft is windy, the edits are where we chop at the word and get it ready to walk on.:)

Mayowa. Yeah, the stories never end up 100% how we wanted them. But sometimes, I think you get something better.

Shannon. Aww, thanks.:)

Lydia. I agree. Sometimes I get exhausted on the winding stretches.:)

Palindrome. Me too. Maybe we need a supercar to get us there. heehee.

Carole. Good point, self-publishing is another option to get you to the destination. I think that takes a whole load of guts to do too. I salute you. :)

Angela. Aww, thanks for the kind comment.

Traci. Glad you liked it.

Adventures in Publishing. You're right, Agent Avenue isn't a dead end if we keep going. The journey for me so far has been invaluable. And I've met so many fab people. Loved the post by Cole Gibsen over o your blog too.

Jaydee Morgan said...

I'm great at not presuming life will go as planned or adapting to any changes that come into play. In my writing, however, I'm not so accomodating. I'm not sure why that is - maybe because I'm supposed to have the control and hate to admit that maybe I don't.

Renae said...

Fantastic post! I often see that other writers us an outline and feel bad that I don't. I've tried but I have to let the story flow and progress in whatever direction it wants as crazy as that sounds. Outlines tend to suffocate my ideas! You summed it up beautifully!

Martina Boone said...

Just wanted to let you know that I'm including a link to this essay in tomorrow's This Week for Writer's post on our blog. Thanks again for this!

Lindsay said...

Jaydee. Heehee, I'm the opposite to you. I hate not being able to control my life, but my writing is a different story.

Renae. Great point. I've tried outlines too but, like you, they suffocate me and I can't seem to do it. Don't feel bad, that's just the way we work.:)

Adventures...Okay, not a problem. Thanks for the linkage.*blush* :)

Lisa Gail Green said...

So true! Thank goodness most of us don't think linearly.

Lindsay said...

Lisa. I agree, linear is way too easy. heehee. Thanks for stopping by my blog. :)