Researching and writing about puritan poet Anne Bradstreet

Friday, August 3, 2012

Writing Pains #2

Abigail's small round face, with its pretty cheeks, mild brow and petite nose, was all feminine softness.  But the tilt of her chin, the ease of her hands resting on the coverlet with knuckles lightly flexed spoke in low tones of her authority.

Pretty prose, eh?  Or maybe not.  I wrote that this morning, and at the moment I’m very fond of it.  But maybe in a week or a year I’ll hate it so much that I will have to take down this post and personally excise it from the memory of anyone who has read it.  Writing is so emotional.

The funny part of it is that the paragraph I wanted to write this morning wasn’t supposed to be about Abigail at all, but rather was supposed to make evident This Other Thing about a different character.  But I got caught up in another current -- the horses got the bits in their teeth and ran -- the lunatics got in control of the madhouse -- and I ended up with something very different.  That happens to me on a regular basis when I’m writing.  It feels rather like inspiration, though I suspect it is rooted in a lack of discipline or a lack of clear vision of where I’m going, in this paragraph, today.  It’s rather like taking a right turn, fully intending to end up on Main Street, and imagining you’re about to -- but ending up at the fair grounds instead. The fair grounds are all well and good, except you still have business to attend to on Main Street.

I’ve also had quite a time with certain characters not wanting to settle down and behave themselves.  One very important character has refused to be anything except a caricature, a cartoon of himself, floating obscenely above scenes like some sort of oversized flesh-colored balloon.  But today I caught him skulking around a corridor at the start of Chapter 2 -- why hadn’t I noticed his toes sticking out from behind that tapestry? -- and I dragged him out and cuffed him a time or two; and he settled down and actually behaved like an adult.

I think I’m starting to be irritated with that paragraph that I opened this post with.  “Feminine.”  Really, Joyce?  That’s the best you can do?  Back to the drawing board, but not today.  


  1. Great descriptions here, Joyce. I so get what you mean about the love/hate of writing. No idea what to do with it, though, sorry!

  2. I'm in a writer's group and most of the published authors feel like they are writing "crap" half the time. I am finding that learning to write is quite difficult. Keep practicing!