Monday, October 19, 2009


You will not find a lack of ideas among my personal collection of six or seven thousand writing challenges.  You will, however, find this:

I like to percolate.

I started using this word in high school, when I discovered that if I lodged a problem in my mind and then went about my business - especially sleep -  my subconscious would digest it and float the answer back up in due time.  I don't know why I felt percolate was the appropriate verb, but I did have a part-time job that involved removing coffee grounds from a giant urn after exactly twelve minutes.  I was often late by several hours.

Likewise, I tend to leave my story ideas to their own devices for too long.  They tend to bloom in my noggin like spores on agar.  Before I've typed five hundred words, I have a novel's worth of elements building their own civilizations.   (If you see me staring into space some time, it's not a petit mal seizure; it's just the story temporarily hogging my CPU.)

Once upon a time this seemed like a good thing.  Handy, even.  Until I tried to actually WRITE the story.  At that point, expelling all these characters and settings and plot points onto the page felt like herding cats.  Worse, the draft started to read like a a police report.

I don't know the answer to this problem, but it is one reason I'm anxious to try NaNoWriMo.  Maybe, if I work hard to NOT think the story to death before November, the writing won't fall too far behind.  If not, maybe I'll have the courage to revolt against the story and and cut new paths as I go.

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