Today started out as a confessional day; an urge for a soul-baring, full-disclosure email of my current emotional state. Decided not to go to that self-indulgent place after all.
My dear B-Boy just finished and fed back on a couple of chapters. The second of the two was delivered in a form in which NO ONE ever sees the work: notes. Fortunately, in his infinite wisdom, B decided to forgo the notes part, seeking the realization of the work rather than the intention, or as he put it, “Honestly, I stopped at the notes because I want EVERYTHING in the form of that song your words sing.” Sigh…thank you, B.
That decision gave rise to was the subject for today’s post: the path from the thought to the deed, from the head to the page.
As anyone who visits these posts will know, the thoughts often are birthed in the middle of the night. Delivered into the tape recorder. Transcribed to the notebook in pleasingly meditative sessions of thought-collection. A lovely process when it works; sheer torture when it doesn’t.
Next, from the notebook to the laptop. Sometimes, I’ll move only the notes that pertain to a particular chapter; a way of going full-immersion in the atmosphere-before-the-fact. Sometimes, I’ll go broader and create e-folders for a character, a subject, a scene—a way of looking ten steps down the road for a direction that has not yet materialized. Either way, this is a chance to refine the expression, if refining is needed. Often, the note goes in exactly as conceived.
From there: to Chapter. I sit with the thoughts for a while. Live them. Be them. Step into the characters’ heads and look through their eyes. Feel the emotional resonances. Know what they know and what they don’t. Only then do I write.
Even the writing is not a direct path to clear. Sometimes, when my brain is fired up, the writing is like being shot out of a canon; I can’t type fast enough to keep up. Other times—the more-often times—this is a “let’s sketch it and organize and see what happens.” The shape of the chapter is drawn from the notes; the impetus and flow; the emotional logic.
After that, back again. More refining. More reworking. I am a desperately diligent re-writer. To a fault, I’d say. When there is song in the words, when they compel from one paragraph to the next, when the characters walk off the page under their own power, then it’s time to go back to the tape recorder, the sanity check, the sound that reveals what the eye cannot.
Funny, but until this moment I had never seen the “Path to Clear” as being a circuit rather than a straight line. The circle. No beginning, no ending. It’s the shape of the universe.