Pamela Hobart Carter and Arleen Williams founded No Talking Dogs Press which features short books in easy English for adults. With Lynne Wiley Grant, she wrote Brace Yourself, a survival guide for adults undergoing orthodontia. For thirty years she taught science and preschool and a few other things. She lives in Seattle.
My Tangled Place of Figuring Out
by Pamela Hobart Carter
I am working on a snarl of a novel.
Many years ago I wrote a story featuring Marcella and Rook. The year after, I wrote another with the same characters. A couple of years after that, I wrote a 10-minute play, Rook and Marcella Test the Waters (read at LiveGirls! Theater). When I quit teaching, it was for the larger chunks of time in which to focus on longer works, so I strung together these, and other Marcella pieces, as the basis for a novel. I wrote links and extensions. I wrote and wrote and wrote. Now I’m ensnared in a weed-choked, 300+-page-long marsh of Marcella.
How do I exit the marsh? This is my tangled place of figuring out.
Ever since learning about timed writing practice, as described by Natalie Goldberg in Writing Down the Bones, I have used the method to generate material. I can generate new stuff like nobody’s business.
But it’s the old stuff that’s an issue. It’s the unfamiliar larger scale that’s an issue. It’s the big thinking required that’s an issue.
Natalie reminds me to keep my pen moving because timed writing practice also helps meta-writing: I write to figure out my writing. Writing clarifies thought. (Ta-Nehisi Coates has a wonderful description of this in Between the World and Me. His mother made him write essays when she saw he needed to think something through.)
Natalie Goldberg and her timed writing practice are wonders, but so too are other folks and their practices. I am working on learning which resonate most for me and Marcella.
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