Friday, October 20, 2006

Bella ponders how to write the BIG ideas...

Ever since I had my second child 2 months ago, my brain has been brimming over with high concept book ideas. This happened last time I gave birth--I don't know if there's some kind of weird body-mind connection between birthing a baby and an idea? But I digress...

I've run several of my hooks by my agent and she loves them all. Okay, great. That means I can go ahead and write the proposal chapters, right? Well, sort of. I'm usually the kind of writer who just jumps right and works it out on the page. I love beginnings because anything seems possible. It's the end of the book where I tend to drag a bit. Very much a different process from many of my writer friends who slave over the beginning and then race to the end.

This time around, however, I feel like the hooks are so solid that I don't want to mess up and get it wrong. Of course, all this thinking does is mess with my brain, and I sit here worrying about the writing, rather than getting to the writing.

Yes, I understand that each book I write is supposed to stretch me as a writer (or are they really? can't we coast sometimes and still write good books? another digression...), but I wouldn't mind it if I get lucky and when I sit down to actually attack the first few chapters, they flow easily and beautifully.

I'd love your thoughts on being stretched as a writer and how you deal with ideas that seem too big to get down on paper.

;-) Bella

First of all, I think sometimes a writer can coast and still write a good book. That's stretching ourselves, when the idea isn't "the book of our heart," yet at the same time, it's a good solid story and gives the reader what he or she paid for!

I think those huge ideas are hard to get down on paper. It's so great in my mind, perfect, outstanding, the best thing ever. Yet I'm terrified I'll screw it up when I write it down. It won't translate from my head to paper. I'm working on one like that now. I have to admit I'm still not totally satisifed with the beginning. But the idea is buzzing in my head and just has to get out. So it's great, but I'm afraid it's not great, and then I sit at the computer writing nothing. And worrying. And finally, after I've written it and sent it to my agent, I'm sitting here biting my nails waiting to hear whether I got it right or not. It's such a cool idea, and if I screw it up, well, I wouldn't feel good about that. But I'll know Monday.

As an aside, I wish I could tell when my own stuff is good. I would ruin my manicure so often.
I know how you feel, Bella. Not that I have a thousand big ideas bobbing around my brain, but I definitely know that feeling of, "Can I write well enough to do this idea justice?" I totally had that feeling when I was writing Delicious. I loved those characters so much, I often had doubts about being a good enough writer to do them justice. But in the end, you just have to sit down and start writing. Chances are, your first pass won't be quite "there," but lucky for you, you can always rewrite until it is.

And of course you have the world's most fabulous critique partners to help you...
I'm always thinking of the big ideas for the big books. I'm just not sure I have the talent to pull something BIG off.
I think we all have doubts about our writing. It's such a strange business.
Rae is so right. This is a strange business. And of course, everyone is always telling us, this is a BUSINESS. But there's not a lot of businesses where people feel free to totally trash your product with no regard to how YOU the writer feels, and where there is so much of your heart in the product you've created. It's not like making a widget or preparing a spreadsheet of facts and figures. I think the pieces of ourselves that go into our "product" make it doubly difficult to tackle these big ideas.
I wanted to comment on your opening...the fact you're so full of ideas after having your babies. I think those years when I was birthing babies were probably the most creative of my life. I do believe there's some sort of link between the process of creating a life and creating a story...I just wish you could bottle it and bring the quality out later when you've actually got the time and energy to appreciate it. No matter how high (or low?) the concept, if you write from your heart with the skills you know you posess, you can write anything. I don't doubt your ability one bit. Just look at the beautiful babies you've made. If you can do that, high concept BIG books aren't going to be tough at all.
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