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Writing Ruminations

Writing is such an internal process. Why not make those private ruminations public? This is how stories take shape and grow.

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Location: Happy Valley, Oregon, United States

I've been supporting myself as a writer for many years and am watching the changes in the publishing world with fascination. For me, sharing the craft, teaching, is as creatively satisfying as the writing process itself.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Archetect Versus Explorer

I've been working in the nonfiction universe this past week, revising one of the chapters in the novel writing course I have been creating for Long Ridge Writers Group. I actually began my publishing career with nonfiction, then switched over quickly to fiction and never looked back. Lately, I've been returning to nonfiction more and more often. They offer very different types of creative satisfaction to me, and the 'feeling' is very different. When I'm writing fiction, I really do escape into my created universe. Yes, I am also at the same time the crafter, making the words work as well as I possibly can, deepening the characterization, strengthening the dramatic arc. But a part of me is along for the ride, too, enjoying my exploration of that universe the same way I have enjoyed exploring the universes created by other authors over the years. So I am both creator and participant here.

It's different when I write nonfiction. I find the same satisfaction in the strength and beauty of words that work -- that incredible magic of turning black ink on white space into images, understanding, a shared moment of complicity. But it is the beauty of the structure that pleases me here, the clarity that I can achieve, the personal connection that will assure the reader that he or she has got it right, can do this, will succeed. I am more the carpenter/archetect here, admiring the perfect right angles as I frame the structure and appreciating the lovely lines of the roof and the grain of the maple trim. :-) I am not exploring here, I really am building this dwelling from the ground up. In my fiction, I am the explorer who returns out of the jungle with the pictures of the lovely places I've been...not everything I've seen, but the images I chose to bring back.

I guess I'm more explorer than archetect, which is probably why I write fiction and teach in stead of writing nonfiction to pay the bills. It probably has a bearing, too, on why the garden shed I built a few years ago leans slightly...

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