Friday, July 29, 2011

Living the Dream, Part 4: Day 3

Don't forget part 1 or part 2 or part 3.
Day 3

GRADUATE LECTURE: “Practice doesn’t make perfect: A Case For a Better Practice”
Seth Edwards
  • Define Process: What you do as a writer. The motions you go through. NOT your process by which you improve your specific piece.
  • “I don’t think I have anything truly unique to add to the conversation” (about process).
  • Analogy to improving golf game.
  • Instructed Gabe to come up and putt. Then showed him intense instruction on it…resulted in not getting it in.
  • “Drive” is for show.
  • “Putt” is a science.
  • Haphazard routine with no awareness. If you just stand up and putt around for ten years, you might improve…
  • Phase I: “Just do” or “Just putt” No method, no awareness, [I would say almost compulsive maybe.] Here’s where he learned that practice makes perfect doesn’t work. It’s absurd. Yet as a writer, this is what he was doing.
  • Phase II: Too much too soon. Coaching and instruction overload, resulted in tensing up. MFA program.
  • Phase 3: 3,6,9 method for golf. Put the ball at 3, 6, 9 feet..
  • The moment of discovery.
  •  What am I doing while I putt? When I was putting during the process of practice became aware of how my body was being held and what time of day it was, what mood I was in. Discovered I was really tense.
  • “I became self aware of how I practiced–NOT the practice itself (not the game or drill itself).
  • Yet as a writer I wouldn’t do this…
  • “Writing is like…”
  • What are the implications? Make your practice better. Get intentional.
  • How do you writer? What do I do? I better get intentional.
  • Can I become a better writer?
    • Yes….Figure out how and then replicate. Good habits and bad habits.
    • No…because they won’t do the work.
    • Is talent enough? No.
  • Strategies to improve.
  • Can you really know what you did after you did it?
    • Speculate. Avoid navel gazing though. Analysis. Anti-thesis of writing for most of us.
    • Mind/body. Art/Science
    • Chapter 2 of Burroway…added later in second edition.
  • Study your process: 1. Imitation of whoever’s writing you love. 2. Visualization
  • Exercise: Writing is like….Making lasagna…eventually you stop following the recipe and make it your own....Ballet…drill, dance, rehearse, perform.

Q & A with Jackie Woodson
  • “When I sit down to write, I avoid newspapers, cell phone, etc. I use a playlist and replay it over and over.” For the Tupac book she played Tupac and Eminem and Lauren Hill. House has to be really clean no distractions. Get into space and not getting interrupted. Be aware of limited time to write because kids come home. When I’m stuck, I read or listen to books. Her go-to books are Member of The Wedding, To Kill a Mockingbird, anything by Raymond Carver.
  • Listening to books versus reading. If it’s really well written, wants to read. If it’s factual information, wants to listen to retain.
  • Cathy asked how to you figure out the vessel for the story? Picture book, YA, Middle grade, poem? Jackie says that the age of the character dictates.
  • First line matters.
  • Poetry line-by-line, but with urgency.
  • She reads out loud. Not very concerned with language in Pecan Pie so didn’t read aloud.
  • She says she is a minimalist as a writer. Brush strokes of appearance of characters and setting. Desire for reader to meet her half way.
  • “I get to choose my illustrator, but I can’t talk to them.”
  • Pictures and words are independent
  • Translate internal thoughts of character to the stage for her play version of Locomotion. And keep the integrity of the story the same. 7 characters into 3.
  • Jackie “Plot happens. It’s the thing that will happen…If you get 2 people in the room, conflict will happen.” What do they want and how are they going to get it?
  • It’s all about HOW the story is told.
  • When writing characters that are not nice you have to have compassion for them and that allows you to find the broken place in them to make the reader have compassion.
  • “In the act of writing I do not try to look for the universal. Rather, I assume we are all connected. The gaze has to be bigger.”
  • Walk through the world with eyes wide, wide open.
  • She doesn’t outline or plan.
  • “If your story is trying to say something, say it.”
  • She doesn’t write the curse words besides "damn" or "hell". Instead she says they cursed a lot and let the reader decide which ones.
  • She doesn’t read a lot of craft books but mentioned Bird by Bird and John Gardner. Also The Hero’s Journey.
  • Says uses the fiction as her craft books.
  • Picture books are the hardest. Adult fiction can look back and YA no looking back. 
Part 5....tomorrow......

    1 comment:

    Joanne Carnevale said...

    More fabulous creativity! So interesting comparing the writing process with a putting a golf ball. The speaker admitted to not having anything new to add, yet presented the material in a new way. That was bound to click with somebody who perhaps did not respond to other presentations with the same intention.
    These blog posts have been a wonderful window into a place I might never find myself. Thank you!
    More to follow?