Writing Slow

Posted: January 19, 2017 in fiction, Writing
Tags: , ,

I am slow. My writing process reminds me of the fast food vs. slow food movements. You hear it a lot—be prolific, write fast, crank out books, series, new product funnels—the literary equivalent of fast food. But partly by choice, partly by nature, I’m a slow writer.

I’ve begun baking lately. The kind of bread I like, sourdough, requires long, slow fermentation to develop a more complex texture and richer flavor.

My writing is like that as well. I’ve spent the last year anslow-2d three months ruminating on the plot for my new book series, hundreds of pages of notes without a single page of prose so far. The plot turns and turns in my mind, my subconscious churning out useful bits and pieces here and there, as I weave the structure into greater complexity or reduce something overwrought into a more elegant simplicity.

Ok, I should be completely honest here—viewed from another angle, I turn the pieces of my story this way and that, add a piece here and there, but they won’t yet fit together—is this my process or failure? I vacillate between “this isn’t enough” and “this is too much”. I suspect this grinding, frustrating process is my road to a better book, but what if there is no better book? I can only quit or not. We’ll see.

slow-down-focusPerhaps a writer’s approach derives from the initial goal—why is he/she writing? To get paid, to become known, or something else? For me, I write as a test. Can I really write something that—had it come to me as a book written by someone else—my reader-self would have loved? The kind of book I would stay up late reading because I couldn’t put it down? I’m not sure if I’ll ever achieve that, and it’s impossible for me to know, since I can’t be truly objective about my own writing. I have to rely on other readers to provide a different kind of mirror, one with its own limitations (lovers and haters and what do you take from them?). Meanwhile, I inch forward on this quest, a literary tortoise hoping to win the race.fast_and_slow

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