Tuesday, July 6, 2010

writing day

Gwen didn't come today as she was doing some work and then I had to rush off to celebrate Arlo's 90th birthday with him. He and I went down to the waterfront and knocked back some rum. But before I went partying with Arlo I did work.  Gwen and I will work together on Thursday.

I had my beat sheets up on a wall near my desk but still not close enough to refer to them the way I wanted. I went downstairs to SP's workshop. He cleaned it up on the long weekend - I was dazzled! I found a piece of plywood brought it up and fastened my sheets to it. What a difference! Now I can rest the plywood on a chair and work away.

I got through all of the first sheet  - 8 chapters. I am adding/subtracting - and setting up the conflict. I'm seeing if it flags or goes to quickly but mainly right now I'm revising for plot, structure and clarity. I'm feeling good but then I'm still on the part that feels solid - I do think though that if I keep improving the structure and clarity of this part when I get to the rougher part in the last third of the middle section - I'll go 'aha' and it will fall into place.

 I'm really paying attention to  a quote Ursula K. Le Guin had in her book The Wave in the Mind.  It is a quote from a letter Virgina Woolf wrote to Vita Sackville-West. In fact the title of Le Guin's book is taken from this quote:

As for the mot juste, you are quite wrong. Style is a very simple matter: it is all rhythm. Once you get that, you can't use the wrong words. But on the other hand here am I sitting after half the morning, crammed with ideas, and visions, and so on, and can't dislodge them, for lack of the right rhythm. Now this is very profound, what rhythm is, and goes far deeper than words. A sight, an emotion, creates this wave in the mind, long before it makes words to fit it: and in writing (such is my present belief) one has to recapture this, and set this working (which has nothing apparently to do with words) and the, as it breaks and tumbles in the mind, it makes words to fit it. But no doubt I shall think differently next year.

I believe I understand what Woolfe means by this and why it is so important to Le Guin. I have it over my desk to remind me to pay attention to that mysterious rhythm.
Is there a quote you keep handy? Or do you have something you'd like to say about the meaning of this rhythm?


Mason Canyon said...

Listening to that mysterious rhythm is important. The inter voices we sometimes hear can direct us to wonderful writing. Please wish Arlo a Happy Birthday for me and tell him he doesn't look a day over 75.

Thoughts in Progress

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'm still marveling at a 90 year old knocking back rum. Good on him!

Jemi Fraser said...

Rhythm is so important to the written word. I do tend to read my work out loud to see if it flows.

Love that quote - it's beautiful :)

Jan Morrison said...

Mason - I'll be sure to give Arlo your comment - he'll be deeply thrilled!
Alex - well, knocking back might be a bit of an exaggeration! But we did savour them in the open air! And it has become a tradition which we both enjoy. When he hits a hundred we'll have THREE drinks of rum!
Jemi - absolutely! Sometimes when Gwen and I have our writing day together we have to be in separate rooms because one or the t'other is reading aloud.

Hart Johnson said...

I sure like Arlo... I will have some rum for him, too!

So... are your 'beat sheets' about rhythm? I am not sure I understand what they are, but it sounds like you are making great progress--I love how planned you have this revising thing. And it really seems to be working.

As for rhythm... it is so true that some stories really flow beautifully and I like that rhythm may be why... I think thus far, the closest I've come to thinking about it is noticing when something stops me up... some phrases or words are like a verbal constipation--those I can spot...

Crystal Clear Proofing said...

Wow, that's a powerful quote! I hadn't really ever thought about it, but so much (not just writing!) is really all about the rhythm! This is going to change how I look at things! LOL - I feel like a light bulb just went off...

Carol Kilgore said...

I love the image of the wave. The motion, the swelling, the crashing as it meets the shore, the ebb. All to repeat again. This is something I think I can remember. Thank you.

Talli Roland said...

I totally agree about rhythm. I can read anything if the rhythm is good!

Am so jealous of your Lower Deck experience. I love that place (I'm assuming it's where you were knocking back rum?).

I'm going to be in NS for two weeks in September (from the 16th to the 30) if you fancy meeting up at some stage? :)

Anonymous said...

It's written on the rainbow,
in letters made of gold
Written on the rainbow,
there's wisdom to behold
My friend the little sparrow,
flew close enough to see
Written on the rainbow,
is this philosophy:
As you walk the streets,
you will have no cares
If you walk the lines and not the squares
As you go through life make this your goal
watch the donut, not the hole
--sung by Burl Ives