March 17, 2010

Subconscious Gravity

The mind is an amazing thing. It makes amazing connections in ways even the person making them doesn’t realize. This can be a bad thing because it enables people to find infinite justifications for what they’re doing, even when those things harm other people. But it’s also an amazingly good thing because we yearn to connect ~ emotionally, intellectually, physically ~ with other people and with the world around us.

I’m reminded of this as I write. Creating a story is like creating a painting. You may have a broad idea of what you want to do, but the story is made up of specifics, not generalities. So every sentence or brushstroke is a decision or two or three. You make a first mark on the canvas; you write a first sentence. That lays down something concrete, and unless you go back and change it, you’ve narrowed your options. Your protagonist is going to be female and this aspect of her character has to be this because of this action.

As the story forms in your mind, you have to make connections and provide justifications and motives. But the thing is, sometimes you consciously think out a motive, but a lot of times it will spring onto the page without you thinking it through. You’ll go with an impulse ~ and in this you have to just trust your subconscious ~ and as you lay it out, it becomes clear that that makes perfect sense. The name you chose is perfect to reflect the person and the situation. The relationship to the protagonist rings true. It’s exactly what you need even though you didn’t consciously create the connection.

The power of the subconscious is amazing, and you have to trust it like you trust gravity. It will ground you, keep you connected in a very solid and real way. And, also, it will supply what you need.

What I’m Reading Today: Read a little more Maurice Gee’s Going West. Fabulous. I’m also excited because some friends have sent me some stories.

PS Got a very nice rejection on a story (after a very very very long time) with an invitation to submit again. It’s so sweet that they took the time to respond. I also received a form rejection on a story.

PPS Three weeks to AWP! I’m so psyched to meet old friends and to meet new friends in person that I’ve gotten to know via Facebook and email. Hey, all you who are going, if you see me there, please stop and say hi!

No comments: