Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Rods and Cones

"Let it sit and see what you need to have happen to connect the first bit to the last bit."

A while back, I finished the chicken heart story. I wasn't completely happy with the way it came out, and I had that nagging sensation that something was fundamentally wrong with it. However, at the time, I hadn't the faintest idea of what needed fixing. Anyhow, I satisfied myself with the fact that it was done, and that I could always come back later.

Yesterday as I was lying in bed, half dozing, and the pieces started to come together. Get rid of the father in the story, it's about the mother and daughter. Father's dead. He gave the chicken to the daughter before he died, that's the why of the heart continuing to beat. Also the why of Mathilde letting Chloe keep the heart. Stretch out the timeline so Chloe has the heart a week or two before the accident. In my head, I could almost hear the click, click, click of issues resolving themselves. Now the story and the "whys" are perfectly clear.

Of course, it wasn't just a random epiphany. I was working backward. I wrote the story and felt like it had issues. All of it, that is, except for the last paragraph or two. Mathilde sitting in the hospital waiting room, holding the jar with the beating heart in it. That part rang true. I just had to work on getting the rest of the story to match up. In this case, my subconscious mind figured it out before my conscious mind could.

Sometimes, it seems like writing has more in common with night vision than anything else. You know, how when it's dark you can actually see things better if you don't look directly at them?


Jenny said...

Those moments are the absolute best! Those Aha! Oh my God, I am using exclamation points and will now cease.

But, anyway, that's why I love revision. Some people really despise it. In the first draft you have great moments (like those last couple paragraphs you're talking about) but subsequent drafts, where you're staying up at night going Dammit! Not quite there! and then all of a sudden you've got it figured out and you know how to make those scenes resonate if you just change something in the story--sometimes something BIG but still, you know when you're done, it'll be the best.

Anyway, that was a really long way of saying I really dig those moments.

Whittaker Luckless said...

I run around crazy for a while when I get those moments. I don't know what my family thinks of me.

It's "lying" in bed. To lay, one must have an outside force having worked on one in order to have got one laying. Like if one gets punched, one gets lain out, as one has become the direct object of the sentence. But if one does it oneself, one is lying, and therefore should not be trusted.

Whittaker Luckless said...

I love words...

Ali said...

Thanks for the grammar. I always get those two mixed up and I knew that when I used the word, I'd be using the wrong one. *Sigh* At least I've got the "they're, there, their" thing down.