Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Right Tree

My tough perceptive writer critic friend read the new beginning of the completely new book and she loved it. I had been nervously checking my email hourly to see if there was a post from her giving her verdict (when will I ever stop doing these things to myself?), and then the email came, and she said, "I really thought this was great. It totally cracked me up." As soon as she said it, I realized that I had known that was what she would say. Sometimes I think authors are terrible critics of our own work - but most of the time I think we're actually pretty accurate self-critics. When something isn't working, we know. When we're on fire with our red-hot creative hotness, we know that, too.

Twyla Tharpe has a great discussion of "ruts" versus "grooves" in her totally wonderful book The Creative Habit. She gives three steps for dealing with ruts. First, you have to see the rut. Second, admit you're in a rut. The third step is getting out of the rut. She says that the third step is the hard part, but this time for me it was the second step that was the hard one. I saw the rut, saw it only too well, but was in resolute denial about it: maybe the book would find itself in the next chapter, or the chapter after that. . . . this was only the first draft. . . it was still better to be writing something than nothing. . . . When I finally admitted the rut - THIS BOOK IS NOT WORKING! - the next step - WELL, STOP WRITING THIS ONE AND START WRITING SOMETHING ELSE! was suprisingly easy.

Oh, I hope I'm in a groove now! Because, as Twyla says, "A groove is the best place in the world."

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