Not Teasing

Growing Obsession

Somehow I doubt that if you’re reading this, you want to know how much rain we had on Sunday (about two tenths of an inch) or how many tomatoes we picked yesterday (about a quart of cherry tomatoes and another quart or so of romas), or how the pomegranates are doing (very well, we’re harvesting two or three every other day).

These things are very important to me.  Weather and the garden are two of the foundations of my life in autumn.  Another is pet care.  Another is…  Well, the point is, what I figure you check these Wanderings out for mostly is news about my writing.

This impression is confirmed by how “hits” go up markedly when I talk about some aspect of my work.

I’ve been writing a lot but, since I’m not one of those writers who wants to share every detail along the way, I’m caught in a bind when it comes time to write a Wandering.

Some people have commented that I’m a “tease,” when I comment that I’m busy writing or that I just finished an exciting scene, but don’t share anything about the content.  The reality is, I’m not teasing.  A tease is trying to get a rise out of those teased.  I’m not.  I’m just reporting the facts.

Why don’t I like to talk about a work in progress?  Because the story is evolving as I write.  Unlike, say, my good buddy, David Weber, who had a pretty firm idea where the Honor Harrington story arc would end way back when he started the series over twenty years ago, I really don’t know where Firekeeper, Blind Seer, and the rest are heading.  I’m on the adventure with them, a ghost chronicler hovering along behind, transcribing like crazy.

But the process isn’t that linear.  Sometimes while I’m writing a scene, I realize something about a character that gives him or her a lot more dimension.  When I’m polishing my rough draft, I’ll slide in some of this information.  This is one reason I don’t workshop works-in-progress, and rarely do readings from unfinished works.  Until the exploration is complete, I myself don’t know what’s going to happen.  What happens later may change the details I preserve.

When I stopped writing last Friday evening, I had no firm idea what Firekeeper, Blind Seer and the rest would encounter next.  On Monday morning when I sat down to answer the weekend’s accumulated e-mail,  I suddenly realized what Firekeeper, Blind Seer, and their companions were going to see when they moved along a particular passageway.

Sound crazy?  I guess it would to some people, but I bet it doesn’t to everyone.  The creative process is as varied as are those who create.  Mine has worked for me for a good number of books now, so I hope you’ll bear with me.

Ask me about the teppary beans!  I can tell you all about those.  Maybe next week?

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8 Responses to “Not Teasing”

  1. Mandy Says:

    Yum! Pomegranates! How are the teppary beans?
    Happy writing! 😊

  2. John C Says:

    I’ve been working on a story a bit here and there, and I find that not only do I not know what’s going to happen next, but I don’t know what’s already happened. That is, I frequently revisit the already-written parts of the tale, changing what’s come before to better support where I think I’d like to go next. I don’t just slide in new information, but change the events and the people participating in them.

    I suspect that I’m committing the cardinal sin of premature optimization, but wonder how common this behaviour is. Do you do similar things while writing, do you tend to wait for a later editing phase to make those sorts of adjustments, or have you developed a better sense for the story?

    “…premature optimization is the root of all evil…” — Donald Knuth.

    • janelindskold Says:

      Short answer is, I don’t do this. But I do know writers who do. I’d say your process is only “wrong” when you begin to be unhappy or feel you’re on a hamster wheel. If you feel it’s valuable investigation and creatively stimulating, then go with it!

  3. CBI Says:

    Never thought of your writing as a tease: it’s very conversational. Reminds me of what I’m missing when I only see you & Jim once or twice a year.

    Since I have a brown thumb–can’t tell a hydrangea from a hibiscus–the gardening (and crafts) stuff often goes over my head. That is part of the reason I find them interesting: seeing enjoyment of some things that the desire to do is alien to me. (I suspect that your writing ability contributes much to that ability to “span the gap” as it were.

  4. Louis Robinson Says:

    OK, I’ll bite: what’s up with the beans. Are they drowning the toads and strangling the geckos? I have to say that that’s the sort of behaviour i’d expect from something called a Teppary Bean

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