“Meta” is a cool word. It means self, or with, or beyond or various other things like that. Okay, what it really means is . . . hard to put into words. So, examples. Metaphysics is the physics beyond physics, the physics that makes physics work. Meta-communication is communicating about communication. Its sort of like that.
What’s my point? This is going to be a post about writing. I’m writing about writing. Meta-writing. Writer’s do this a lot. We’re a very self-reflective bunch. I teach cultural anthropology, so myself, perhaps a little more so. Or maybe that’s just the Narcissism talking? Whatever the case may be, this is the seemingly obligatory entry on my writing process. But don’t worry, its not what you’re thinking.
I’ve seen a lot of these posts. If you want to be a writer of the publish author variety it pays to read what those who are where you want to be have said on the subject. I see a lot of the same thing. Writing is very hard, the hardest part of the whole thing. You see a lot of books geared towards that as well. I get it, I really do. Pat Rothfuss was writing his book The Name of the Wind, while he was still in college. It took him forever to finish it, and it was well worth the wait. (Go out and read ;The Name of the Wind right now. I’ll wait. Back? Okay, here we go).
So I get it. But it’s not me. For me writing is not difficult. Its time consuming, especially with the equivalent of two full time teaching loads and a three year old, but it isn’t something I agonize over. Maybe I will once I start making money and it becomes a job and not just that thing I do when I’m not teaching or hitting martial arts students. But right now, not so much. I blame that on having a doctorate. After you’ve written that first 100k words, and had two experts in the field go over it for anything they can chew up and spit out, everything else seems somehow less intimidating. That being said, it does take discipline and you have to do it, if not every day, as frequently as possible. So, here’s how I write (at the moment. Take all this with a grain or three of salt. I’m not actually published, so who’s to say this is actually working for me? A fantasy novelist with delusions? Say it ain’t so!):
First, I do try to write every day. I have time set aside for it. Usually not too long, maybe an hour or two. I do have two day jobs after all. I don’t like to start on blank pages, so whenever I finish a chapter I start the next one. Even if its only a paragraph, even if I’ll re-write the whole bloody thing the next day. It just makes me feel happy inside. I usually start each writing session by re-reading what I wrote last time, usually starting at the beginning of the chapter. So, yeah, I edit. A lot. I’d like to think of myself as a wordsmith. It’s a loverly self-image if nothing else. Then I rewrite anything I don’t like. Which is a lot. Then I move on to the next bit, whatever is new, wherever I left off, etc. Usually there’s a lot more editing involved there, too. Discrepancies in the time-line or descriptions creep in and the like. That’s why I edit a lot. To catch where I’ve fallen asleep at the keyboard. Beyond that, my particular writing style if fairly organic. I’m one of those strange one’s whose characters live their own lives. Hell, Olivia Monroe has her own twitter feed! But that also means I end up doing a lot more rewriting when I want a scene to go somewhere and everyone else wants it to go somewhere else. Occasionally I win those, but usually they’re better at describing what’s going on in their lives than I am.
So, yeah, its kind of like that. Write, rewrite and then write some more and hope everyone is getting along well enough in my head, because there’s only so much room up there.