It's tough, because I use a combination of planning (as in an overall outline) and just letting the spirit take me where it will. The result of this is that the story often seems to get away from me and leaves me determined to plan better next time. But for my writing style, if I'm too rigid in my planning, none of the cool/good stuff seems to happen. It's only when I lose myself in the writing that the story seems to write itself without effort. So I continue to tread this fine line and hope for the best. I just hope everything isn't a hot mess at the end! You know? :)
On my thoughts this week, writing as art...
It's a tricky subject that everyone seems to have an opinion on. We live in a unique world, where amazon has introduced the most interesting concept of reviewing what we buy. This has led to some... volatile interactions on the internet. I don't think it's an accident that one of the most recent and hilarious skits of SNL is one that deals with internet comments. HILARIOUS VIDEO HERE. (Hulu won't let me imbed it, sorry.)
It's easy to eviscerate when you don't have to show your face, or when you can be anonymous. There is a culture of people (commonly called trolls) on the internet who garner much amusement from this.
For writers, in the past, there was no exposure to this. It was basically paper/magazine reviews, and word of mouth. Goodreads, amazon, shelfari and others have given readers the power to praise or deride books and for many authors that is a bitter pill (or a spoonful of sugar) to swallow.
Rather than rehash what I've already discussed multiple times... I want to address a particular argument that I recently read(for the hundredth time) about writing as art. I have seen this argument over and over again. How can anyone critique art? It's a travesty! No one ever reviews paintings! No one stands around saying, "Picasso's art is totally amateur. He obviously had no idea what he was doing! Cubism? It's total crap."
Well, actually, there are plenty of people saying that. My mom, for instance. She's just not saying it on the internet.
But here is how I see it. Art differs from literature in one KEY way. You don't have to lay down a DIME to buy it unless you like it. Art is all there, at the get-go. What you see is what you get. If you like waterlilies, Monet is the guy for you. Go down to Target and buy yourself a $15 print. (or fork out a few mill, if you've got that kind of cash) If you like Degas and ballerinas, it's all there for you to see. My point, and I do have one, is that there is no obligation to purchase before you know if you'll like it or not. Have your opinion about Kandinsky, no one is telling you that you have to buy a wrapped painting by him and only open it AFTER you've paid.
Yet that is essentially what we ask readers to do every day. Here is where you say, well, what about libraries and freebies? I would argue that there is still the investment of time. Even giving 5 minutes to try out a book when you have two children, a garden, a continuous mound of laundry and a budding writerly career is a BIG DEAL.
People aren't trying to buy art (or read it) when they pick up a book. They are paying (or hoping for) an experience. What experience do I look for? I want to be diverted. I want to enter a new and interesting world. I want to read about love or hate, growth or decay, kick butt heroines, main characters that make me give a crap about them. I don't want to deal with the crap I have to in the real world. Now, that is just me. Every person in the world, dealing with their different experiences, has different needs from the books they read. And they can want "art" or more realistically, "artistic" books or they could want silly fluffiness that they don't have to think about.
But books are experiences, and never something that can be taken at face value from a cover or a story blurb. And even though their words may sting sometimes, we really just need to give readers a break. They are not out to get us.