Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Did I Write That?

So a critique site that I participate in recently had a bit of a hiccup, and a number of story files may or may not be lost forever. The site featured a weekly prompt and I wasn't always as diligent as I should have been about saving the things I put up for it, so I've been going back through what I have saved on my computer trying to find what I do and don't have a copy of. So far the only casualty I can find is a story about a witch and an enlightenment philosopher having a discussion about the nature of reality over several courses of an elaborate magical meal. So, I'm hoping the archive isn't lost, because I rather liked that story.

But the other thing that's coming of this inventory taking is that I'm running across things I don't remember writing. Some of which I really rather like. My rationale for writing these things is opaque to me. Sometimes I remember doing it, sometimes I don't. They were mostly done for exercises, whose usefulness in creating a story I'd never know until the hour was up, so I guess I wasn't terribly invested up front, but still.

One of the other things I ended up doing in dry times was to go back and do prompts a second time, sometimes more than a year after the first time. What I got from the prompt was always different. In part that's likely because I had already done the other story, but I think there's something more than that.

I think the ideas that come to us ("inspiration" if I'm being arty) has a lot to do with the mood one is in, what one's consumed recently, the problems of the day that are bouncing around in your mind. I've outlined stories with a very clear idea of the conflict and emotional resolution, only to be unable to pin it down when I come back to it a day or two later. One can be disciplined about it, to a point, but I think mood and environment really do have a lot to do with the part of your work that's you, as you are putting it down.

Maybe the benefit of editing is smoothing out some of the hiccups with that, or maybe that's why some edited stories come out for me feeling a bit muddled and unfocussed. Do I work at cross purposes with myself?

I don't know. More research is needed. 

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