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Writing is about perspective

Last night I had a talk with a friend of mine about the story I am working on and getting it written. We talked about a lot of stuff, and there was a lot of things I could not explain about the story; such as how it was going to end, or what it was that the protagonist in it was fighting for. Somewhere along the way the idea of giving him a pet raccoon was added into the mix of things we talked about. The conversation wrapped up with a bit on my struggles with the right way to end a story, and the feeling I had like I had forgot how to finish a story.

It was a good talk, and I am still arguing with the character about why I do not want to give him a raccoon.

As I started working this morning I was still thinking about the things we had talked about (and arguing with the character on why he could or could not have a pet raccoon). I was also contemplating the way writers approach a story, how structure is determined, and I saw a few quotes that I liked. I dug out my old green artist’s journal to record them. This old green book is based on the book from the novel Illusions, where I open it at random, read the quote that is written on whatever page I open it to, then get back to work. Today I added three more quotes to random pages because of how they resonated with me on the current struggles I was experiencing:

Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.

~ George Orwell


The road to hell is paved with works-in-progress.

~ Philip Roth


Before I wrote the Potter books, I’d never finished a novel.

~ J.K. Rowling


After I had those quotes written, I flipped through a few pages and found the only entry that I have included that is a quote I myself made at one time. It was in a chat with a friend, the same one I was talking with last night, back in August of 2003.

So far I got this page worth of text… well… a page with text on it… one letter… an e… but it’s a capitol e!

And there is, to me, a good example of perspective in writing. It did not matter to me at the time that I was staring at a page, and had been for some time, on which the only writing was a single capitalized letter of the most common letter in the English language. I had something on the page, it was no longer a blank page, I could work with that, I could write something from that. Would I keep that E in the finished work? I have no idea, I do not even recall what I was trying to write at the time, but whether or not I kept it does not matter. I had started working on whatever I was writing and from that meager beginning a written work was born.

Writing is all about getting started. Begin with a single letter and from that build a word, transform that word into a sentence that becomes part of a paragraph and keep building outward into pages and chapters and into a finished story. It all begins with a single letter on the page.

I still have not figured out that elusive ‘how does one end a novel?’, but for the moment, I think I will take my cue from the King in Lewis Carroll’s, Alice in Wonderland:

“Begin at the beginning,” the King said, very gravely, “and go on till you come to the end: then stop”

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