Want to watch a writer at work — how he thinks, and re-thinks, and changes his mind? How about stepping up to the keyboard and making your own changes, revisions or additions?
Tomorrow’s your chance.
Here’s a wild idea…one writer, Matt Bell, starts his own short story, writes it on-line for a few days, lets two guest writers take over — and tomorrow — you’re up!
I wonder how many people will take up the challenge. Writing is, typically, a private, unseen and invisible process, the machinery whirring away — we hope! — inside our heads.
I had dinner this week with a fellow writer who asked how my book was coming and what my process is. I usually bang out as much as I can, perhaps 1,500 words, maybe 2,000 at most in one go, then stop and take a break. My eyes and my head get tired.
I do some housework or stare at the sky or read a magazine or take a swim class. Then it’s back at it.
I let new material sit for a few hours, preferably a few days, a cooling-off period that allows me to read it more objectively. I print it out on paper and edit in hard copy only. Then I revise on the computer. One joy of being a writer is that no one tells you how to do it. There is no “right” way. You can scribble on a napkin or use a quill pen on parchment or a Mac at the beach.
The final product is yours, all yours. If it’s lousy, well…
I still have 44,000 words to produce to meet my contractual agreement within the new few months. It’s enough to make me huddle in the fetal position beneath the duvet. But, no.
Finding the right ones, making sure they read smoothly, that the entire story is compelling and engaging, are all part of my job. I did use two terrific researchers to help me gather material for this book (the last one used four). Kelly and Peter are both so skilled that, of course, they each just got hired into full-time journalism jobs and are no longer available.
I’d love to add a bunch of elves to my workshop to lighten this load, but, in the real world, it’s not an option.