Thursday, February 12, 2009

Learning to write, all over again

Over the last four years, I have written four novels. Many years before that, I completed one novel in two radically different iterations (space opera vs. spy story), half-wrote a sequel, and then stopped writing for a while. I also have a few chapters of a somewhat autobiographical fantasy novel that's essentially the prequel to My second NaNoWriMo novel, The Passion of Marty-Sue.

I've also written scripts. The space opera was based on a filmmaking project in college, well over thirty years ago, which in turn was based on a handwritten first draft of the novel. Then came Script Frenzy, with the first few scenes of Donuts! The Musical and a completed script, The History of My Disbelief.

Then there are literally hundreds of songs and poems I've scratched out on pieces of looseleaf and on the backs of utility bill envelopes.

More recently, I've cobbled together a few rather twisted essays for ExChristian.net, rants which might one day end up as chapters in an anthology.

When you count it all up, that's probably about a million words written over a period of nearly 35 years.

Every time I write something new, something changes. I've gone from angsty, purple prose that took itself entirely too seriously... To slightly grittier but compositionally immature prose that sneered at its own tragic heroes... To a cornucopia of absurdities with Internet inside jokes, skateboarding penguins, crazed inventors, and Cats from Space.

And now it's happening all over again.

The impetus seems to be a snippet of an interview that I overheard on the radio a couple of nights ago: According to the interviewee, our brains react to fictional representations based on the sensory data in the narrative. The more precise the details -- Taste, touch, smell, sound, colour, shape -- The more deeply we experience the story as we reenact it in our minds.

So that's where I'm going next with My writing: Taking time to smell {feel, look at, describe, get poked by} the roses. Think of it as mindfulness-as-literary-device.