Saturday, August 09, 2008

No reservations

And no, not talking about booking a table at a restaurant. I watched the season finale of So You Think You Can Dance and saw some of the best routines of the season and something kind of hit me.
The best dancers on the show could throw themselves wholeheartedly into the routine, whether it was taking on a character, or learning a new style of ballroom dance.
It’s the wholeheartedly thing that got me. I think it’s very much all or nothing. Because you could see when the dancers didn’t do this, the routines just looked a little silly. A factor which got a lot of the early dancers voted off.
I think the same goes for writing. Especially in that first draft. As writers we have to be prepared to write the stuff that might read as a little ridiculous. Maybe too over the top, maybe too flighty, maybe too sexy, purple, crazy, zany, dark, violent, whatever. Because in the maybe over the top moments, we also find the brilliance some times, the flashes of something completely different.
And we need different. I just finished reading a whole pile of contest entries, and to be honest, 80% of them were not different. Too similar to everything else out there. Give me a book with parts that are brilliant and other parts not good, than a book that is uniformly just fine.
I think it’s how I’m going to interpret the advice of shutting off our internal editors. I’m going to give myself complete permission to write the most awful crap because I’m hoping in there I might find some semblance of brilliance, even a sentence would do.


Maureen McGowan said...

Great post, Sinead. So true.

And I'm going to write my books more purple from now on. ;-)

As you know, I do get fearful about how far to take things and hold back at times. We shouldn't. We really shouldn't.

Suzanne said...

YES! I wish more 'how to' writer's books would promote this philosophy for first drafts, I believe as you said, we'd see a lot more originality. First drafts are the place to let your imagination just run.

Molly O'Keefe said...

I couldn't agree more -- I feel like when I sit down to write and let's say I'm tired or angsty or crabby about oh....say...the state of my house and I just throw myself into what I'm working on - I go different places. Not that it's all good, or keepable, but it's different and it's exciting for me.

Kimber Chin said...

In an aside,
do you think contests reward
'different' entries?

Maybe Maureen can chime in.

'Cause one reason
I don't judge
is because I LOVE the strange stuff
and that doesn't often sell
or win contests.

I'm fearful of messing
the system up.

Maureen McGowan said...

Kimber, I think smart judges reward different. Besides, the only way to effect change is from within.

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