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On “Cooking Up A New Golden Age”

January 20, 2010

As I’ve mentioned before, I am not a planner. I don’t like brain-bubbling or thought-storming or character-clustering or map-outlining or any other such combination of organizational words. Periodically I think I should try it again, try to inject my writing with, you know, some structure, but it never sticks. I fly by the seat of my pants. I drive blindfolded, in the dark.

Or I did, anyway, until I discovered Laini Taylor. She has hot pink hair and a beautiful baby daughter named Clementine and one of the most enjoyable blogs I’ve ever read. Her beautiful, fantastical books not only make me want to run to the nearest library, they make me want to write–and that’s just from the descriptions of them! I haven’t even read them yet! That is some serious talent and charm, folks.

I’ve been devouring her archived blog entries like candy (substantial, educational candy!), and in one she shared the text of a talk she gave at an American Library Association conference. It’s about the power of escapism, and it might have just changed my writing life. “You are SO right,” I said as I read, nodding along like she was talking directly to me in real time (by which I mean “like a crazy person who needs to get out more”). Fantasy is TOTALLY “the funnest thing there is,” Laini! It’s what once helped me produce 50,000 words in seven days. It’s rollicking and spirited and surprising and a delight to write and to read and WHY ON EARTH DON’T I HAVE MORE OF IT IN THIS BOOK?

Once I had stopped shouting at my computer, I was overcome by a bizarre sensation. Was I…could I be…nonsense! But I was. I was brainstorming. I was churning out snippets of half-formed ideas faster than I could type them. And, all of a sudden, there was so much more fantasy than I’d ever expected this book to have. My literary sky was falling. Characters were morphing before my very eyes, magic was spreading like wildfire–it was getting busy and confusing and loud in my brain.

And then one thought rang clear and true above the din of creative chaos: I NEED A WHITE BOARD. Seriously, I need one roughly the size of my entire bedroom, so I can–yes–map and outline and plan. I can’t believe I’m even saying that, but I need to. Now that my book has cracked in half and spilled its guts on the floor and rearranged them haphazardly, potentially mistaking a stapler for a kidney or an alarm clock for a lower intestine, I am in desperate need of a game plan. Or at the very least, a place to dump my brain-guts (gosh, this imagery is getting gross, isn’t it?) where I’ll be able to make sense of them.

(Isn’t that like, a thing? Reading fortunes in animal innards, or something? It so is. That’s a bit relieving–it may be a disgusting analogy, but at least I didn’t invent it.)

Phew. Definitely time to go to Staples.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 20, 2010 9:35 pm

    I sometimes use dry erase markers on my mirrors/windows (and pretend I’m John Nash). http://www.chokingonpopcorn.com/popcorn/wp-content/uploads/2008/08/250px-a-beautiful-mind-3.jpg

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